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How to Serve an Absent Spouse

The decision to file for dissolution of marriage is often a difficult one, and timing is an issue that is to be considered based on the circumstances of the parties, how long they have resided in the area, and myriad other factors that go into the process of untangling a marriage. Service is the legal term that describes a Respondent in a case being presented paperwork/documentation that a lawsuit involving them has been filed, once the timing is right.

But what happens when a party is not accepting service? Is the case doomed? The short answer is no. There are several ways to serve a spouse with dissolution papers that fulfills the service requirement1.

One method of service is certified mail. This can be achieved through the Court system, and the receipt will be returned and processed by the Court. This will show that the Respondent has received the dissolution paperwork.

Another option is sheriff service in which a law enforcement officer serves the Respondent or leaves the paperwork at the address of the Respondent. There is generally a fee for this type of service, and same can generally be directly requested through the Courts.

Private process service describes when the Petitioner (person filing the lawsuit) hires a private process server to serve the paperwork to the Respondent at home, work, or other known location. Often, a process server will need as much information as possible about a description of a person, their schedule, and maybe even a description of their vehicle to insure they have the correct person.

There is a fee associated with private service, and often, clients are charged per attempt at service. Upon completion of service, an affidavit can be completed by the process server to acknowledge that the Respondent received the paperwork. This can be submitted to the Court to show service.

Finally, if a person is still not able to be located through mail, sheriff, or private service, the Petitioner can petition the Court to serve the Respondent by publication. In the publication method, service is published in the newspaper where the Respondent resides or was last known to reside.

The publication must include specific information relating to the case and be published multiple times within confined dates. An affidavit is then provided by the publisher to show that the notice was published per the requirements, and same can be submitted to the Court.

We hope you find this blog post useful in understanding the process service of filings in Indiana. This blog is not intended as specific legal advice or a solicitation of services. This blog post is written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle litigation throughout the state of Indiana.


  1. See Ind. T.R. 4(et al.)
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