Serving a lawsuit on a person who lives in Mexico

It happens with some regularity that a client of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will need to serve a spouse or other person who does not live in the United States. By far the most common country that we find ourselves sending divorce or child custody paperwork into is Mexico.

So many people in Southeast Texas have friends and family in Mexico it is understandable that if a relationship isn’t going well that a person may leave to go to Mexico. This creates a series of problems as far as providing notice to them of any pending family law cases in Texas.

Fortunately there are tried and true methods to successfully serving someone who lives in our neighbor to the south. Let’s go over the process in detail so that the steps can be illustrated for you all.

The Hague Service Convention and its effect on international service in Mexico

Most of the nations on earth (the United States and Mexico included) have signed onto a document called the Hague Service Convention.

The purpose of this document is to streamline the process for serving a person living abroad with paperwork for a wide range of legal matters. The convention seeks to avoid a likely scenario where hundreds of different countries think of an implement hundreds of different ways to allow for service to be effectuated upon a person living in their country.

What all needs to happen before your Petition for Divorce or Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationship is ready to be sent into Mexico? Read on to find out.

Translate the documents

Mexico has a central authority that accepts and remits American (or any foreign country’s) legal documents for service. It is not enough to simply send the documents into this agency in whatever format is acceptable to your local district clerk, however.

First and foremost the documents need to be translated into Spanish. This requirement is still in effect even if the intended recipient of the documents speaks English perfectly. Also, please note that having your attorney’s legal assistant translate the documents using Google translate or his or her own knowledge of Spanish is not recommended either.

Legal documents are not like a transcript from a television show where common language is used. Specific terms and word usage must be employed so I would recommend hiring a translation service (Houston has many businesses that can provide this sort of service) to provide a professional translation.

Fill out a Hague Service request

For the purposes of this article, I want you all to understand that this document outlines your name and address, the address of the central authority in Mexico who needs to receive the document as well as your contact information if there are any issues.

You will also need to list the documents that are being served. So if you are filing for divorce, you will need to list your Original Petition for Divorce, Notice of Temporary Orders Hearing, Temporary Restraining Order, etc. Finally, information about the court that the documents comes from will need to be specified with the address provided for the clerk of that court.

Make a few copies for your records and then send the documents into the Central Authority for Mexico

Then prepare to play the waiting game. It can take more than six months to have a proof of service document provided to you from the authorities in Mexico. The key here is to understand that it is not your lawyer, or the U.S. government or your court’s fault that it is taking this long.

That’s just how it goes with international service. There are alternative methods to serve someone who lives in another country, but Mexico has objected to all those methods so you’re stuck with the one we’ve been discussing for the entirety of this blog article.

Why Planning Ahead is Critical when it comes to International Service

Poor planning when it comes to serving notice of a lawsuit to a person who lives abroad is a huge pitfall for you and your attorney to avoid.

Your attorney would be best served by notifying the court early on that service on a person who lives outside of the United States is necessary so that your case is not placed on a “fast track” towards an early trial date like many courts in Harris County are fond of these days. If your case is set for trial 180 days from the date it is filed you and are going to end up requesting multiple continuances most likely due to circumstances beyond your control.

The important thing for you to understand at this point is that everybody involved would like to be able to speed up the process of serving notice of a lawsuit to a person living in Mexico. Unfortunately I’m here to tell you that speed is not a strong suit of the laws associated with international service.

However, the Hague method does work even if it takes a long time to get from point A to point B. If your attorney proceeds with diligence to prepare the documents for service, sends them out as soon as they are ready and then notifies your judge of the circumstances of your case you will still have to wait but at least there won’t be any unpleasant surprises in the form of a dismissal that requires you to begin the process all over again.

If you need to serve a party who lives in Mexico or any foreign country for that matter it is advisable to seek assistance from an attorney before starting out down that road. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan have experience in this area of the law and am available to meet with you to discuss your specific situation. Contact us today for a free of charge consultation where one of our licensed family law attorneys can speak to you about your case and where you can ask questions in a comfortable, friendly environment.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. Can I get a divorce even if my spouse lives in another country?
  2. The Effect of Divorcing a United States Citizen While a Non-U.S. Citizen
  3. I am Not a United States Citizen and Live in Spring, Texas Can I file for Divorce?
  4. How to Divorce Your Spouse in Texas When Their Whereabouts are Unknown
  5. The Dirty Trick of Filing for Divorce in Another City
  6. The Dirty Trick of Moving Out of State with the Kids
  7. Should I move out of the marital home during a divorce?
  8. Children's Passports and International Travel after Texas Divorce
  9. Can a Parent remove My Child from the state of Texas or from the County or Country where I am living?
  10. Geographic Restrictions in Child Visitation Orders in Texas

Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring Divorce Lawyer

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with a Spring, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.

A divorce lawyer in Spring TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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