Tampa Florida Divorce Family Law Attorneys
Service by Publication When Residence is Unknown
In filing any divorce or family law case, the person who files is the petitioner and your spouse or other person in a family law case will be the respondent. If the residence of the respondent is unknown, then the following is the procedure that must be followed to effectuate service.
Performing a Diligent Search
The procedure if you are initiating a divorce or any family law matter is you must be able to personally serve the petition upon your husband, wife or family member once it has been filed with the court. If you do not know where the respondent is living, then you must complete a diligent search. It is not necessary to do it yourself as there are third party investigators who will complete it for you. The form is called an Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry and in short there is a checklist of the actions to take which are to be checked off when completed. Furthermore, you must include additional information such as the date the action was taken and the person with whom you spoke. In addition, you will need to provide your spouse’s last known address. In short, you must provide proof that you have inquired of all those items listed in the checklist. This is what a third party investigator will do for you which makes the process substantially easier. Either you or the person who is qualified to do these searches will sign the Affidavit in front of a notary and it will be filed with the court in the case in which the original petition was filed. The result of the diligent search is either that you will find the current residence of the respondent or you will not.
Results of the Diligent Search
Locating the Residence
If you succeed in locating his or her residence, then you must proceed to serve him or her personally by process server as discussed in the divorce process, which in part refers to family law cases. If the respondent is willing he or she can sign a form accepting service of the petition which will be filed in the court case. Thereafter, the next step is for the respondent to file a response and counter-petition, if applicable, to the court and provide the petitioner with a copy of the response within 20 days after the date of service it. The procedure in the process then follows its normal path.
Not Locating the Residence
If you cannot locate his or her residence, then the process for service will be by publication. You will need to prepare a Notice of Action and publicize it in a newspaper in the county where the court is located once during each week for four consecutive weeks. The newspaper must meet the requirements as prescribed by law. Usually, the court will use a particular newspaper for publication and this information can be obtained from the family clerk of court. Once the notice has been published for four consecutive weeks, the newspaper will file Proof of Publication in the case at issue setting forth the dates of each publication. Once the Proof of Publication has been filed, a motion can be made for a clerk’s default. If there has not been a response to publication of the notice of action by the time this motion has been filed, then the clerk will enter a default. Thereafter, you can schedule a final hearing uncontested hearing and obtain a default judgment.
Contact Our Experienced Tampa Divorce & Family Law Attorneys
If you are looking for help you with your divorce or other family law matter, including obtaining a default judgment, then look no further. Since 1997, our top rated attorneys have been helping those in Tampa Bay to obtain their goals in divorce and family law cases. Contact us now to speak with an experienced and knowledgeable divorce and family law lawyer. Call us at 813-672-1900 or email us to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation and to give you our advice as to your best options. We will respond to you immediately or at our earliest opportunity!