Is service of legal papers other than in person fair?
I recently received a follow up question on this original question I answered on Quroa:
How can I sue someone without knowing their address?
My answer was:
In Utah, if you can persuade the court with which you have filed your law suit that you have made, without success, a duly diligent search for a way to serve the defendant, the court will allow you to serve the defendant “by publication,” meaning by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the city where the defendant was last known to have been found or publication by posting notice in the courthouse, or online, etc. The point being that if there is no other way to achieve service of process personally upon the defendant or by mailing a copy of the complaint and summons to his/her U.S. Mail address or e-mail address or by text message to his/her cell phone, etc., then service by publication is what the court will permit, so that your law suit can proceed.
The follow up question was this:
Wow, this sounds really extreme. I’m not an attorney and from your profile it seems that you are, but I just can’t understand logistically how a Court could allow this. Perhaps when everyone received circulars this might have been more reasonable, but with so many news sources I don’t know how you could possibly expect that the person being served to see this. Would a Judge allow summary judgment if they didn’t respond after the publication?
Here is my follow up answer:
Remember, a plaintiff is not granted leave to serve by alternative means without first proving to the court’s satisfaction that the plaintiff “the identity or whereabouts of the person to be served are unknown and cannot be ascertained through reasonable diligence” or “if there is good cause to believe that the person to be served is avoiding service.” The party moving the court to allow service by means other than personal service “must set forth the efforts made to identify, locate, and serve the party” before the court will permit service by alternative means.
Alternative service used to be primarily by publishing in the newspaper when newspaper delivery and reading were ubiquitous. Now that fewer people read newspapers with every passing day, alternative service has moved to things like mail to last known mailing address, an e-mail to last known address, to a social media account, or a text message to last-known phone number. That’s fair. That’s reasonably and honestly calculated to try to reach the defendant and give him/her notice. How else would you reasonably expect alternative service to be achieved?
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277