Motions for substituted service

Any initiating court document, including an Application for an uncontested divorce, must be served in person on the responding party. This is called “special service”. Normally, you would hire a professional process server to serve the materials on the individual at their home or place of work. However, if you’ve been out of touch with someone for years, and you don’t know where they live or work, what are your options?

The first step would be to conduct a skiptrace on the individual to ascertain if they can be located and, if so, proceed to attempt service on them. You can either hire a process server or a skiptracer, to conduct this search.

If the skiptrace isn’t successful, or if you know where the person lives, but they are deliberately evading service, you will need to bring a motion in front of a judge to order substituted service. Substituted service is service that isn’t in person. It might be service of court documents by email, or providing the materials to a family member you know the responding party is in contact with. In order for the motion to be successful, you will need to detail all of your attempts to effect personal service on the other party to the court.