How Do I Serve Someone?

Service within Arizona Q&A

  1. What is service?

Service is the formal way of giving your filed documents to the opposing party. Certain documents that you file with the court require that they be served. For example, initial Petitions must always be served, along with Notices to Appear.

  1. What are the options for serving someone in Arizona?

You should attempt to serve the opposing party in person. The summons, pleading, or other document to be served must be served by a person authorized to perform service. The documents must be left at the opposing party’s dwelling or house with a person of suitable age residing there. This means that the person does not need to be an adult. A child living in the home, if of suitable age and discretion, can be served on behalf of the opposing party.

 Another option is to serve the opposing party by mail or national courier service. You may deposit, with delivery charges prepaid, the documents you wish to serve with the post office. The delivery must require signature confirmation or be by certified mail with a signed return receipt. Service only works this way if the person to be served signs the confirmation or return receipt. Once the returned receipt or signed confirmation is given to you, you must file an affidavit with the court that the documents had been served, and you have evidence of the signed receipt, as well as the date of the signature.

  1. What if I do not know where the person is located? Can I serve them by publication?

Yes. However, keep in mind that there are certain restrictions when serving someone by publication. In certain cases the court must have a special type of jurisdiction. If you serve someone by publication, that jurisdiction will not be conferred on issues for paternity, child support, spousal maintenance, or division of marital property. Only actions involving custody or marriage will likely be allowed to be served by publication.

  1. What is the process to serve someone by publication?

You should only serve a person by publication if you do not know where they live, the person has avoided service by other methods, and publication is the most practicable means to serve this person. You must publish the summons once a week for four successive weeks in one newspaper in the county where the action is pending and in a newspaper in the county of the last known residence of the person being served. If the action pending is in the same county as the last known residence of the person being served, you only need to publish in one paper. The service is complete after 30 days after the first publication.

  1. How do I prove to the court that I served the opposing party by publication?

After the service by publication is complete you will need to file an affidavit with the court showing the dates of the publication and a printed copy of the publication. This way the court will be aware of the service.

  1. What if I have an issue that cannot be served by publication, but I cannot find the opposing party?

You will need to at least attempt to serve the party. You might need to hire a private investigator to find the person. You also might want to try and contact that person’s family or try to find them through a social media website. If you have shown that you have made a diligent effort to serve the person, you can inform the court. Sometimes they will have you serve by another method, or allow you to proceed without service.