The Inability to Serve Divorce Papers in Texas

By Jimmy Verner

It's frustrating when the respondent in a lawsuit is dodging process, especially in a divorce case. Ordinarily, a divorce petition is served by hand-delivering it to the respondent. But the case can proceed even when the respondent is avoiding service of process. A petitioner can serve the respondent by having the process server tape the divorce petition to the respondent's front door, or by publishing a notice of the divorce suit in a local newspaper, with the permission of the court.

It's frustrating when the respondent in a lawsuit is dodging process, especially in a divorce case. Ordinarily, a divorce petition is served by hand-delivering it to the respondent. But the case can proceed even when the respondent is avoiding service of process. A petitioner can serve the respondent by having the process server tape the divorce petition to the respondent's front door, or by publishing a notice of the divorce suit in a local newspaper, with the permission of the court.

Filing for Divorce

The spouse seeking a divorce must file a petition with the court to initiate the proceedings in Texas. After the petition is filed, the clerk of court prepares a citation. The citation tells the respondent that a divorce suit has been filed and how long he has to respond. Both the petition and the citation are then served on the respondent.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Personal Service

The court clerk delivers copies of the petition and citation, either to the sheriff or constable, or to a private process server. In either case, that party is responsible for locating the respondent and handing him a copy of the paperwork. Alternatively, the petitioner can request that the clerk of court serve copies by certified or registered mail. However, if the respondent hides from the process server, it's unlikely that he will pick up his certified mail.

Alternative Service

If the process server cannot find the respondent, the petitioner can request an alternative method of service by filing a motion with the court. The motion must include an affidavit from the process server, describing the efforts he made to serve the respondent. The court may then order that the petition and citation be left with a person at least 16 years old where the respondent lives, or by direct service in any other manner that would reasonably give the respondent notice of the suit.

Service by Publication

If the petitioner does not know where the respondent lives, the court may order service by publication. The petitioner must file a motion, supported by an affidavit, stating that he does not know where the respondent is or how to locate him. The court can then order that the respondent be served by publishing notice of the divorce in a local newspaper. If the respondent fails to file a response, the petitioner can request that the court grant the divorce by default. If service is by publication, however, the court must approve and sign a statement of the evidence presented at the default hearing.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
What Is a Waiver of Citation in a Divorce Case?

References

Related articles

Petitioners Rights in a Divorce

Filing for divorce is often an individual's first encounter with the court process, which can be a daunting experience The petitioner starts the action by filing a petition with the court that states his request for a divorce and his reasons for seeking it, and then serves the document on the other party. As the case progresses, the petitioner has the right to amend the petition, seek remedies for the other party's failure to participate, and even withdraw the petition and cancel the divorce process entirely.

How to Serve Divorce Papers

In a divorce filing, papers filed with the court must be properly served on the other spouse. Examples of these papers include the Summons and Complaint and Notice of Appearance -- the typical documents filed in the beginning of a divorce action. While some specific rules for service may differ from state to state, you will typically have to select from one of several acceptable ways to serve divorce papers on your spouse.

How to Serve Military Personnel With Divorce Papers

Military courts cannot grant divorces, so military couples must get divorced in state courts following the same basic process that civilians follow. However, divorces involving service members can have additional obstacles because of the nature of military service. For example, it can be tricky to find a way to serve your military spouse if he is overseas or on a military base.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

How to Divorce by Publication in Ohio

At times, rather than file for divorce right away, a couple simply drifts apart. When this happens, eventually each ...

What Is a Motion for Default in a Divorce Case in Florida?

A motion for default in a Florida divorce case allows the person who filed the divorce petition, the ...

How to Serve a Respondent Divorce Papers in California

In divorce proceedings, one spouse petitions the court for a divorce and the other spouse responds to the petition. The ...

Self-Divorce With an Absent Spouse in Kentucky

In the state of Kentucky, anyone seeking a divorce from a missing spouse may file for divorce by publication. In these ...

Browse by category