Arizona Family Law: Methods of Service, (Including Facebook)

Experienced Family Law Attorneys Explain The Different Types Of Service Of Process

Our Arizona Family Law Attorneys take a look at the many ways to properly serve a person in Arizona. There are many ways listed in this article, including a discussion of using social media to serve a person. Proper service is necessary for a successful divorce, child custody, or modification in Arizona. More often, when a person takes a family law case into their own hands, effective service is not completed.

One overlooked but crucial facet of family law is that the other party must always be properly notified of all filings and impending hearings. If you are the one to initiate a divorce, custody dispute, or any other family law matter, the onus will be on you to make sure that the other party is legally served. Service may be a non-issue in your case, but the other party may try to play games and delay litigation by avoiding service of process.

Family Lawyer Doing Service Of Process Via Social Media

In Arizona Family Law, Do I Have To Serve My Spouse Paperwork? How Do I Do That?

Proper service of paperwork is a requirement of due process, which is the constitutional right to receive notification and the opportunity to be heard in legal matters in which you are a party. Without due process, you may come home from work one day to find that your spouse has divorced you and taken custody of your children. If you are initiating a family law matter, the other party needs to receive a copy of whatever petition you filed so they have an adequate chance to file a response. The person who initiates a legal matter is typically referred to as the “plaintiff,” but may also be referred to as the “petitioner” in family law matters. The other party is generally the “defendant,” but is often called the “respondent” in family law matters.

There are various methods of service of process, but typically you will begin by having a process server or sheriff serve the documentation on the other party. You should not serve the other party yourself. The cost of the process server should be nominal in the grand scheme of your family law matter, usually around $50-$100.

How Should You Try And Serve Someone In Arizona Regarding Family Law Issues?

Arizona courts prefer that you first use some method of personal service before resorting to other types of process service. Courts prefer to avoid endless litigation over repeated issues, and improper service may be a reason for the respondent to reopen a family law matter that has already been resolved in court. Personal service is the most likely method to ensure the responding party has proper notice of the impending legal matter, and that they have sufficient time to prepare a response.

Family Law Service Methods In Arizona

  • Personal Service:

    Personal service is usually the court’s preferred method of service. There are three ways to effectively complete service of process in Arizona. The first is by having the paperwork directly handed to the respondent. Second, the paperwork can be left with an eligible person at the respondent’s address of residence. Third, it can be left with an agent authorized by law to receive service of process on behalf of the party. There are certain rules that apply if the other party is a minor, a government entity, etc., so you should consult with a family law attorney before initiating a case against such a party.

  • Substituted Service:

    If the petitioner can prove that adequate attempts were made to personally serve the respondent, the court may allow the petitioner to proceed with substituted service. The petitioner should provide dates and times attempts to personally serve were made, as well as descriptions and statements of anyone else at the residence during the attempt. At that point, the court will allow the petitioner to serve the respondent by mail.

  • Waiving Service:

    The plaintiff has the opportunity to request that the defendant waive service of process in Arizona. The pleading being served, as well as two copies of a waiver, must be provided to the responding party. They must be sent by first class mail or another reliable method, and include a warning of the consequences of failing or refusing to sign the waiver. The defendant must also have a reasonable amount of time to respond, typically at least 30 days. If the defendant fails to sign the waiver, they may be held responsible for process server expenses as well as any other legal fees incurred in properly serving the defendant.

  • Service By Publication:

    This method of service is typically reserved as a last resort when all other methods of service of process have failed. The basic premise of service by publication is that if you have tried all other available methods and the other party is impossible to locate, the only thing left to do is inform them of their impending legal matter through a notice in the newspaper or another approved publication. You will need the court’s approval before serving the respondent through service by publication.

Can Family Law Documents Be Served Through Facebook?

What Is The Legal Definition Of Legal Service?

Legal service is the procedure in which one party in a family law matter properly notifies the other party and provides them with copies of all relevant filings. Each state has different rules of family law procedure, so proper service in one state might not satisfy another state’s requirements.

Service By Facebook, Is That A Real Thing?

Some states, such as New York, have acknowledged that in many cases, a respondent will be more likely to see notice of a legal matter on Facebook than through service by publication in a newspaper. For service through Facebook to be proper, the account must actually belong to the respondent, and it should be reasonably believed the respondent will see the service with sufficient time to respond. In New Jersey, service through Facebook has been found to be appropriate when the respondent had harassed the petitioner on other social media platforms.

Problems And Concerns Of Allowing Posting Via Social Media

Anyone familiar with social media knows there is a big difference between sending someone a direct message and posting it on their profile. Service by posting on the respondent’s profile, or on your own feed, allows all of your followers to see details about your legal matter, and doesn’t even guarantee that the other party will see it. Making drama more public is an annoyance for the court, and can be harmful to any children involved.

Those going through a family law matter should not only be hesitant to attempt service through posting publicly, but to post anything about the matter in general. Even the occasional, carefully-worded post will form a habit, and you may end up posting something you regret in a low moment. Screenshots last forever, so these posts may end up being used against you, even if you later delete them.

How Prevalent Is The Use Of Social Media For Service In Arizona Family Court Matters?

While service through social media is still rare, its popularity can be expected to increase parallel to the increase in popularity of social media in general. Nowadays, it may be the most reliable way to get a hold of some people. Despite its growing popularity, it should still be used as a last resort when personal and substituted service have failed.

If you are considering initiating a family law matter, service of process will be just the first of many steps you must take and procedures you must follow. Completing each step correctly is vital to achieving your ideal outcome for your family law situation. For affordable legal guidance through your family law matter, call the experts at My Arizona Lawyers. Our AZ family lawyers have years of experience representing clients just like you. We also offer payment plans and free initial consultations. We have same day consultations available, so call today!


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