Friday, September 26, 2008

Divorce in Maryland: Alternative Means of Service of Process

After suit is filed in a divorce matter, service of process must be effected. The purpose of service of process is to give actual notice to the defendant that an action against them has been instituted. This is a due process requirement. Generally this is done by delivering a copy of the summons, complaint, and all other papers filed to the individual, or by leaving a copy of the summons, complaint and all other papers filed at the individual’s dwelling house with a resident of suitable age and discretion, or by certified mail requesting restricted delivery. Maryland Rule 2-121(a).

Occasionally I have represented clients who separated from their spouse years ago and do not know the current whereabouts of the spouse and are therefore unable to effect service of process. When this occurs, a plaintiff spouse may petition the Court and request alternative means of service under Maryland Rule 2-121(c). The Court will require an affidavit asserting good faith efforts to serve the defendant spouse were made pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-121(a) and have not succeeded. Other good faith efforts include publication of notice in newspaper, contacting friends and family members of the defendant spouse, retaining a private investigator and/or tracing companies, searches through social security, birth indexes, skip traces, and MVA records. (Lohman v. Lohman, 331 Md. 113, 626 A.2d 384 Md., 1993.)(In re Thomas J., 132 Md. App. 396, 752 A.2d 699 Md. App., 2000.)

Please feel free to contact me at 1-888-760-7339 should you have any further questions.

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