Written by attorney Ryan Michael Reppucci

How and when do I serve my family court documents by publication on a person living in Arizona?

Rule 41 of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure (ARFLP) governs "service of process" within Arizona. Section (M) of Rule 41, "Service by Publication; Return," states in relevant text:

[s]ervice by publication is not sufficient to confer jurisdiction upon the court to determine issues of paternity, child support, spousal maintenance, division of marital property, or any other issue requiring personal jurisdiction over a party. In actions involving dissolution of marriage, custody, or any other issue not requiring personal jurisdiction over a party, and where the person to be served is one whose residence is unknown to the party seeking service but whose last known residence address was within the state, or has avoided service of process, and service by publication is the best means practicable under the circumstances for providing notice of the institution of the action, then service may be made by publication in accordance with the requirements of this subpart.

Prior to serving papers via publication, other Rule 41 mechanism's should first be attempted. Rule 41 permits service of family court documents by obtaining a waiver from the party to be served, mailing the documents to be served certified mail return receipt requested and obtaining a signature from the party to be served (other requirements apply; see Rule 41 (C) (2) ARFLP), or via personal service via a licensed process server.

After attempting each of the above service methods with no success, then you may motion the court to permit service by publication. In your motion to the court, you should clearly list and spell out each service method attempted and provide documentation that each proved unsuccessful.

If the Court grants your motion and allows service by publication then you must follow the additional steps listed in Rule 41 (M) to ensure that service by publication is properly effectuated. Once service by publication is completed in accord with the requirements of Rule 41 (M), the serving agency (news paper) will file an affidavit of service by publication with the court. In addition, the serving party must prepare and file and affidavit supporting publication with the court. This affidavit should include your original attempts at service, the courts order permitting service by publication, and a copy of the affidavit of service by publication from the issuing news paper.

In state service shall be complete thirty (30) days after the first publication date. If no response or answer has been filed within thirty (30) days after the first publication date, then you may proceed against the other party by default as set forth in Rule 44 ARFLP.

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