There Are Multiple Ways to Service Divorce Papers
Video Transcribed: What if my spouse evades service of the divorce papers in Oklahoma? I’m James Wirth, an attorney in Tulsa. That’s the question that we have and it’s talking about evading service of process.
If you’re filing a family law matter, civil case, it’s pretty much the same, same rules of civil procedure for that, but related to a divorce, how that operates is you file your petition for divorce, and then you need to get it served. You’re supposed to get it served within 180 days or you file for an extension. So you want to make sure you get it done within that time to avoid the hassle of having to file an extension, but what if they’re evading service?
Well first off, let’s talk about the ways that you can get service. You can do service by certified mail if you’ve got a good address for the person where they’re signing for delivery on a certified mail receipt. You can get service by a process server where someone who is licensed to serve process in the state of Oklahoma can track them down, personally hand it to them, and then they would sign an affidavit of service filed with the court, or you can do service by publication. So that’s your default option.
The important thing related to service is that there is always some way to get service. If you can’t do it by certified mail because you don’t have an address, there’s certain due diligence that you can do. You could skip traces to try to find them. If you can’t get them served by a process server which could be hire a private investigator, hire a process server that tries to locate them, if those two things fail and you don’t get service because they’re evading, you go to the next step which is service by publication.
Service by publication means that it is published in a legal periodical in the county that the case is pending in giving notice that way, but you can’t just automatically do that. You have to request court permission. So after you do try the first two things and show the first two things are not going to be workable, you file a motion to do service by publication where you show that you have done due diligence to try to get it served by other means and then you request the court’s permission to serve it that way. Once that’s granted, you put it in the newspaper the requisite number of times over the requisite period of time, and then if you don’t get a responsive pleading filed with the court, you can file your motion for default.
The thing about service by publication is if you do get a default order, it is easier to vacate that way than in other instances. So normally if you get a default order, if they file to vacate it within 30 days, they can probably get it vacated. If they file outside, they got to file it by petition. It’s more costly and is more difficult to do. They have to reach a certain standard and prove certain things. However, if the default is by publication, the statute allows that to be filed within a certain amount of time. I believe it’s two or three years. So you have more time to file to vacate it under those ways so it’s not quite as firm of a judgment if it’s by publication as if it otherwise is.
So given the option, give actual personal notice through proper service through certified mail that’s signed by them or by the process server, but if you can’t, that doesn’t hold your case up. You can still push it forward by doing service by publication. If that answers your question, that’s great, but if you’re dealing with specific circumstances, information from a video is not going to be good enough for you, you’re going to want a consultation with an attorney so they can talk about your specifics and get legal advice.
To do that with a Tulsa divorce attorney at my office, you can schedule it by going online to makelaweasy.com.