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Note: If you need to serve a divorce, legal separation or annulment summons and petition or a petition for custody and support of minor children on your ex-spouse or partner, and you do not know where he or she is, there is a special process.
Click to find out how to serve a spouse by publication when you do not know your spouse's or partner's whereabouts.
If you are not sure how you must serve your paperwork, ask your court’s self-help center, family law facilitator or small claims legal advisor, or or talk to a lawyer. Click on the type of service to find out more: “Personal service” is the most reliable type of service because the court knows for sure that the person being served got the papers and, if necessary, can question the process server about the “service.” Since it is the most reliable, “personal service” is valid in all types of case.
Also because it is so reliable, it is generally required when serving the first papers (the petition or complaint) in a case.
So, for your type of case, only some of these types of service may be allowed.
The individual sections on this Online Self-Help Center will tell you what types of service are allowed in your case.
You can read about the specific rules regarding service at: Remember, it is very important that you, if you are the plaintiff/petitioner or defendant/respondent, do NOT serve your own papers.
Once you have taken all the steps your court requires before asking to serve by publication: Service by posting (at the courthouse) “Service by posting” means that the court clerk posts the summons and complaint in a visible place designated for court notices at the courthouse.The legal way to give formal notice is to have the other side “served” with a copy of the paperwork that you have filed with the court."Service of court papers" means that the other side must get copies of any paper you file with the court.Before the court will give you permission to serve by publication, you will have to prove to the court that you tried as hard as possible to find the other side.Every court is slightly different in what they require, but most require at least that you try to find the other side at his or her last known address or last known work, mail letters to the last known address with forwarding address requested, call the other side’s friends and family or ex-coworkers to ask about his or her whereabouts, look for the other side in the phone book for any city where he or she is likely to be, and search on the Internet.