When You Can’t Get Your Spouse Served

When filing for divorce, the spouse filing must have the other spouse personally served. Unless the spouse being served agrees that his or her lawyer can accept service on their behalf, traditional and proper service is effectuated by the county sheriff or a private process server.

The rationale behind services is that spouse being sued for divorce is entitled to due process (i.e. the right to appear and respond to any lawsuit). If not properly served, that spouse’s right to due process is essentially denied. Any subsequent judgment or order that is entered where there is not proper service will be subject to being vacated or unenforceable by the Court.

Sometimes, however, a spouse cannot be served by traditional means because he or she is deliberately evading service or perhaps is very hard to reach (e.g. travels regularly, lives out of state). When a spouse cannot be located, is deliberately evading service, or service via a process server is unsuccessful, the Court may order service by special order. This means the party who needs to be served may be served through email, social media, or any other means the Court considers appropriate.

Illinois Code of Civil Procedure provides that when a reasonable attempt at service has been unsuccessful, service upon a respondent is impractical and that an alternative means of service is consistent with the requirements of due process, the Court may allow for “special” service.

Your counsel must file the appropriate motion and attach an affidavit to support your claims. Generally, this may be an effective means to getting service when otherwise it may seem hopeless.

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