Actions in Divorce and Family Law are like any other legal actions. They are law suits and as such, the initial Petition must be served on other Party, known as the Respondent. Service in Florida can be actual or constructive. Actual service is service performed by the Sheriff's Office or any lawfully appointed Process Server. Constructive Service is service by publication.
Constructive Service - In order to utilize Constructive Service, you must perform a number of searches from an entire list of entities that may be able to provide you with contact information for the Respondent. An Affidavit of Diligent Search must be filed and then a Notice of Action may be published. Depending on which County you are filing in, Constructive Service can be expensive. If you have the ability to get Actual Service, you should pursue Actual Service.
Actual Service - Actual Service is the act of having the Sheriff's Office or a lawfully appointed Process Server provide the Summons and Petition to to the Respondent or any individual over the age of 15 who lives in the home of the Respondent. While having the Sheriff's Office serve process can be cost effective, a private process server will not cost significantly more and usually results in faster service. Private process servers are also able to perform searches when it is unclear where the Respondent lives which can be useful in both Actual Service and Constructive Service.
Out of State Respondents - Often times a Florida Resident will need to serve a Respondent who lives out of state. If the Respondent has significant ties to the State of Florida, the Florida Long Arm Statute may be used to simplify Actual Service. If the Respondent has little or no ties to the State of Florida, the process becomes even more complicated and may require the hiring of an attorney in the State in which the Respondent resides.
If you need to serve a missing or out of state Respondent, consider consulting Michael D. Fluke, P.A.