Service rules for special situations

There are situations where you may not be able to serve papers in person. If any of these situations apply to you, you may serve papers using an alternate process. 

In most local courts, the Family Law Facilitator or Self-Help Center can offer more information about how to do service in these situations.

Some of these, especially service when the person lives in another country, are complicated. If your court's Self-Help Center isn't able to help, they may know where you can get more information or get help from lawyer.

If the person you need to serve 

What you need to do or consider 

Lives in another country

You must follow special rules to serve someone in another country. Often, the U.S. and that country have agreements about how you can serve someone in that country. For example, if the person is in Mexico you must follow the Hague Convention or the Inter-American Convention to do service. The process is complicated. 

Lives on a military base or is serving overseas

There are different rules for serving someone on base or overseas. In general, if you or your spouse is in the military, you may wish to speak to Self-Help Center staff or a lawyer as different rules apply. 

Lives in another state (in the US) 

You can do basic personal service or service by mail with Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt. You may also be able to serve them by certified mail with return receipt requested.

Cannot be found 

If you don’t know where your spouse lives, you need to try and find them. If you still can’t find them, you can ask the court to serve by publication or posting.  

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