publications - family law

Service of Legal Pleadings

Once the necessary pleadings are filed with the Clerk, they must be served with an accompanying summons upon the Petitioner's spouse. The summons is issued by the Clerk of Court or the party filing the pleading may present a summons to the Clerk for signature. The summons informs the Respondent that a civil action has been filed against him or her. The summons further notifies the respondent that he or she must appear and defend within the time required by law or judgment by default will be entered against them. The time to appear and defend will be 20 days if service is made in the state or 30 days if service is made out of state.

How do I Serve Someone In State or Out of State When I Know Where They Are?

In Arizona, the sheriff of each county is the official process server for the superior court in which the Petitioner files for divorce. A.R.S. § 11-441A(7). You must contact the appropriate sheriff's department directly to coordinate service. In addition, private process servers are also available for hire. To locate a private process server, you can look in the Yellow Pages under "Process Servers." For out of State service you should contact the local sheriff's office in the county where the respondent resides to determine the correct method of service in that state.

How do I Serve Someone When I Do Not Know Where They Are?

Service by publication may only be used when the respondent is a nonresident or when respondent's residence is unknown. Publication of the summons is made in a newspaper, published in the county where the action has been filed; the summons must be published once a week for four consecutive weeks. The service shall be complete 30 days after the first publication. After publication is complete, an affidavit must be filed which states the circumstances warranting such service and which establishes the fact of publication and the fact of mailing if the respondent's residence is known. A printed copy of the publication must accompany the affidavit. A.R.C.P. 4.2(f). Be advised that due diligence--your best effort, in trying to serve the summons is required before the Respondent can be served by publication. Preston v. Denkins, 94 Ariz. 214, 382 P.2d 686 (1963).

Do I Have Any Other Options Besides Serving Someone?

To avoid costs, the petitioner may notify the respondent of the commencement of the action and request that the respondent waive service of a summons. In lieu of having a process server serve the respondent within the state, the petitioner may send by first class mail to the respondent:  (1) a copy of the summons, petition, and any other papers filed with the court regarding the matter, (2) two copies of a notice and acknowledgment of receipt, and (3) a return envelope, postage prepaid, addressed to the sender. A.R.C.P. 4.1(c).

While it is not required by law, it is recommended that the recipient sign the acknowledgment in front of a notary public. The Respondent is allowed a reasonable time to return the waiver which shall be at least 30 day from the date on which the request is sent. The respondent is than allowed a further 30 days to file their response to the complaint. If a signed acknowledgment is not returned to the sender within the 30-day period, service of the summons may be made by a process server. In that event the court, except for good cause, shall order the respondent to pay the cost of service by the process server, unless the court finds the respondent to have good cause -- a substantial reason amounting in law to a legal excuse, for his or her failure to respond.

How do I Serve Someone Out of State by Registered Mail?

If you are attempting to serve an individual who resides out of state, then you can serve the individual by registered mail. A copy of the summons, petition, and any other papers filed with the court regarding the matter can be mailed postage prepaid to the respondent by any form mail requiring a signed and returned receipt. Upon receiving the returned receipt the petitioner shall file an affidavit with the court stating (1)that the party being served is known to be located outside the state, (2) that the summons and a copy of the pleadings was mailed to the party being served, (3) that the papers were received by the party as evidence by the receipt, a copy of which shall be attached to the affidavit; and (4) the date of receipt by the party being served and the date of the return of the receipt to the sender. A.R.C.P. 4.2(c).

How Do I Know If a Document Has Been Served?

You can find out when service has occurred by checking with the sheriff's office, the private process server, or the Court. A Certificate of Service by a law enforcement officer or an Affidavit of Service by a process server must be completed and returned to the court. The court then files the Order/Injunction with the Affidavit or Certificate with the Sheriff's Office.

What happens if I am unable to serve the opposing party?

If service of the summons and complaint is not made upon a defendant within 120 days after the filing of the complaint, the court upon motion or on its own initiative, after notice to the Plaintiff, shall dismiss the action without prejudice -- which means the action can be brought again at any time. Alternatively the Court can direct that service be effected within a specific time. The court can also extend the time if the Plaintiff shows good cause for the failure to serve. A.R.C.P. 4(1).

How do I count days for the other party to respond after service of legal papers?

In computing the 20 to 30 days the first day is excluded and the last day is counted. Intermediate Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays shall be included in the computation. If the last day falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the respondent has until the close of the next judicial business day to file a response. A.R.C.P. 6(a).

UA Home :: UA Law Home :: UA Law Library Home :: About this website :: Privacy Statement
Copyright © 2003 Arizona Board of Regents, All Rights Reserved.

Level Triple-A conformance icon, W3C-WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 Valid CSS
UA James E Rogers  College of Law Law Library
Publications :: Legal Guides :: Family Law :: Service of Legal Pleadings
Contact Us