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.

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.

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.

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

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
How to Serve Divorce Papers in Texas
 

References

Related articles

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 "petitioner," to ask the court to grant her petition when the other spouse, or respondent, has failed to file an answer in court. Typically, the respondent "answers" the divorce petition by confirming or disputing the facts and terms set out in it. If the respondent doesn't file an answer, the motion for default lets the petitioner complete the divorce without the other party's participation.

What Is a Waiver of Citation in a Divorce Case?

The start of a divorce case in all 50 states involves a two-prong process. First, a petition for divorce is filed. Second, the divorce petition is served, or formally delivered, to the spouse not filing for divorce. All states permit the non-filing spouse to waive service of the divorce paperwork, if she so desires. Although each state has its own process through which a party to a divorce may waive service, there are some common characteristics.

How to Divorce a Person Out of the Country

Divorcing someone who does not live in the United States can be a little like threading a needle in a hurricane -- very difficult, but not necessarily impossible. The divorce process is the same no matter where your spouse lives; it depends on the laws in your state. Serving him with a copy of your divorce petition is the challenge, and service is required by law in all states to begin your proceedings.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

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 ...

What if Your Spouse Refuses to Be Served Divorce Papers in NY State?

If you are seeking a divorce in the state of New York and your spouse refuses to receive the papers, you may still ...

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 ...

How to Stop Divorce Proceedings in California in the First 30 Days

Married couples often reconcile their differences once a divorce has been filed. To stop the divorce process within the ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED