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Alternative Methods of Service in a Texas Divorce Case

Alternative Methods of Service in a Texas Divorce Case

Divorce in Texas can be a complex process, especially when it comes to serving legal documents. Traditional methods might not always be effective or feasible. In this article, we shine a light on alternative methods of service in Texas divorce cases, offering clear, actionable insights for those facing unique challenges in this legal landscape. Stay informed and empowered with our expert guidance on this crucial aspect of divorce proceedings.

Servicing Divorce Papers by Registered or Certified Mail

The law permits completion of constructive notice through various methods, which hypothetically inform your spouse of the divorce. One could argue that your spouse might encounter the petition either posted on the courthouse steps or in the local newspaper. However, it’s unlikely that this method ensures your spouse actually receives real notice of your divorce filing.

It’s crucial to understand that judges typically only allow service by posting when you and your spouse have no children together. In cases involving children, you must attempt service by publication, often in a newspaper. This approach increases the likelihood of your spouse actually seeing the notice, as they might find the newspaper on their driveway or at a local store. Conversely, unless your spouse visits the courthouse, a posting there might not effectively alert them to the divorce proceedings.

Regarding other documents in your divorce, once you’ve successfully served your spouse with the initial notice and the court acknowledges it, you don’t need to repeat all these steps for subsequent filings. You can directly serve the remaining documents to your spouse or their attorney via email, fax, or hand delivery.

At this point, you and your spouse will likely have attorneys representing you. Most family law attorneys now file documents electronically, as many Texas counties mandate this. This e-filing system automatically provides your spouse’s attorney with a copy of each filing, eliminating the need for further notice steps. In our office, we ensure that our clients receive copies of any filed or furnished documents to opposing counsel, allowing them to review and ask questions as needed.

Substituted Service Through a Court Order

Alternative Methods of Service in a Texas Divorce Case

In some instances, it is not possible or practical to serve your spouse with notice of your divorce filing via personal service or certified mail. For example, if your spouse resides outside of the United States or does not know where your spouse is geographical, sending a process server out to locate them without more information would be impossible.

In situations like this, you can petition the judge of your court for permission to serve your spouse with notice in other ways. To get this permission, however, you usually will have had to exhaust every resource you have available to you in serving them personally. This means researching where they are, contacting family and friends of your spouse, and having a process server attempt to help them at their last known addresses or work locations.

Your request for substitute service must be included with an affidavit that details your attempts at serving your spouse personally. Suppose you do know where your spouse lives or works, but you just haven’t been able to help them at those locations personally. In that case, the judge can agree to allow a process server to leave a copy of the divorce papers with anyone at that residence over the age of 16. This is the most common alternative service method when you know where to locate your spouse.

Posting Notice and Service by Publication

Two lesser utilized methods of service of your spouse are service by posting and service by publication. These methods are less used because the chances of providing your spouse with actual notice of the divorce are meager by either method. The law permits completion of constructive notice through various methods, which hypothetically inform your spouse of the divorce. One could argue that your spouse might encounter the petition either posted on the courthouse steps or in the local newspaper. However, it’s unlikely that this method ensures your spouse actually receives real notice of your divorce filing.

It’s crucial to understand that judges typically only allow service by posting when you and your spouse have no children together. In cases involving children, you must attempt service by publication, often in a newspaper. This approach increases the likelihood of your spouse actually seeing the notice, as they might find the newspaper on their driveway or at a local store. Conversely, unless your spouse visits the courthouse, a posting there might not effectively alert them to the divorce proceedings.

What to Do With the Rest of the Documents You File in Your Divorce?

Once you have served your spouse with notice of your divorce petition and the court has given you credit for having done so, you do not have to go through all of these steps when you file additional documents in your case. You can directly serve the remaining documents to your spouse or their attorney via email, fax, or hand delivery.

At this stage, you will likely have hired an attorney to represent you in the divorce, and your spouse will have done the same. The practice of most family law attorneys is to file documents electronically, as many counties in Texas require it. This e-filing system automatically provides your spouse’s attorney with a copy of each filing, eliminating the need for further notice steps. In our office, we ensure that our clients receive copies of any filed or furnished documents to opposing counsel, allowing them to review and ask questions as needed.

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

Alternative Methods of Service in a Texas Divorce Case

As it happens, you may find yourself in a position where you do not know where your spouse is when you file for divorce. We touched on this possibility in today’s blog, but we will cover the topic in more detail in tomorrow’s blog post. The options available to you and the methods you can undertake to locate your spouse will be covered as well.

If you have any questions about the topics covered in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We proudly represent our clients across the courts of southeast Texas and would be privileged to speak to you about how we can help you as well.

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