Look for someone you need to serve

If you need to serve your spouse, domestic partner, or your child’s other parent with court papers, and you don’t know where they are, you will have to search for them.


If you cannot find them, you can show the court everything you tried to find them and ask for permission to serve them publishing the court papers in a newspaper or posting them in the court.

Think about safety and follow the law when looking for someone.

 If there's a restraining order that says you can't contact or go near the other person, you must follow what the restraining order says. 

Tips to find someone

Different courts may ask you to try different things but most will want you to try what’s on this list. Your court’s Self-Help Center may have information or a fill-in-the-blank form you can use to help you.

Check with people they know

  • Talk to family, friends, people they used to live or work with.
  • Talk to any employers they had.

Search online

  • Online phone directory (www.yellowpages.com)
  • Reverse phone directories (if you know their phone number)
  • Search their name online (Google, Bing, www.anywho.com, etc.)

Search social media sites

  • Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
  • If you find them, email them through the social media site to ask them for their address so you can serve them.

Research property records

  • If they own a house or land, you may be able to find an address through the county.   

  • Contact the county registrar/recorder's office. The property owners are listed by name, and each listing includes the location of the property owned. 

  • The county tax assessor's office can search the property tax records for you to get the names and addresses of property owners in the county.  

Check jails and prisons

Get creative

  • You may not need to know where someone lives or works to serve them with legal papers. You only need to find the person to have them served through a third person.
  • So if you know where they spend time, get coffee, go to the gym, they can be served there.
  • If they will meet you somewhere, you can have a friend with you to serve them when they show up.

Write down what you've tried. 

Write down what you tried, the date you tried it, and what the result was, so you can show it to the judge. 

If you find the person

You must have another adult, not you or anyone else in the case, deliver the court papers. Get step-by-step instructions on how to serve:

Divorce Petition and Summons


Parentage Petition and Summons

If you can't find the other person

If you can't find the person, you can ask the court for permission serve them another way.

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