All divorces, parentage cases, and any civil suit began with the filing of a Petition and the issuance of a summons. The summons is issued by the court clerk and serves a very important function. Proper service of a summons and initiating documents stems from the due process requirements inherent in the Constitution and is the means by which a party is notified of a pending action against him or her. Further, service of process is necessary for a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a party. In other words, without proper service, the court lacks power over that party.
There are a number of ways by which service may be made in accordance with the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure. Personal service is exactly what it sounds like – the summons and petition are left with the named respondent by an authorized process server. Substitute service occurs when paperwork is left at the respondent’s home with a cohabitant over the age of 13. Illinois Supreme Court Rule 102 requires that a summons be served within 30 days of being issued. However, if service is unsuccessful, a new summons may issue. In most cases, service of process will be fairly straightforward.
So what happens if you don’t know the whereabouts of a party or if the process server simply isn’t able to get him or her served? In Illinois, a party may ask the court to authorize service by publication. If allowed, a notice is published in a newspaper available in the last known locale of the respondent for a period of time. Depending on the circumstances, there are a number of alternate means of service a judge may allow. A growing number of courts have allowed service on a party via social media. Several New York state courts have authorized the service of process via Facebook (including at least one divorce case). Just this week, a federal court in California just recently held that service on a party via Twitter would be the “method of service most likely to reach him.” You can read more about that case here: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-10-06/accused-terror-financier-can-be-served-lawsuit-via-twitter-judge-rules. While there has yet to be a publicized case of service via social media in Illinois, it will happen – probably sooner rather than later.
Service of process is important. Usually it is easy, but things happen, people move, or a process server’s timing is off; however, there are still many options to achieve proper service. Service by social media will never be the norm, but it is increasingly becoming an acceptable means of service. After all, in an increasingly mobile society, an individual’s Facebook/Snapchat/Instagram account may be the only constant location one has. Lack of knowledge of your ex’s whereabouts is no longer a reason to hold off on pursuing the relief you need, contact The Nally Law Group today to see how we can help you.