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Alabama Service of Process for Divorce
The Server

There are no licensing requirements to be a process server in Alabama. The clerk of the court may designate anyone over 18, who is not a party to the action, to serve process. The state recommends that anyone who serves process professionally should become bonded.

The defendant or his or her attorney may waive service of process, by signing a waiver in the presence of a credible witness.

Unless otherwise requested or permitted by these rules, service of process in Alabama is usually made by a Process Server, who is a sheriff or constable, or a designated person. As an alternative to delivery by the sheriff, process issuing from any court governed by these rules may be delivered by the clerk to any person not less than 18 years of age, who is not a party to the action, and who has been designated by order of the court to make service of process.

Serving Process

The server may deliver the divorce papers to the person authorized to receive process, or leave a copy of the summons and the complaint at the recipient’s home or with a competent person living there.

In personal service, the server locates the recipient and delivers process directly to him or her. When process is delivered, the server endorses that fact on the process and returns it to the clerk, who makes the appropriate entry on the docket sheet. The return of process means process has been served.

The server must serve process within 30 days. In the event of failure of service, the clerk notifies, by mail, the attorney of record or if there is no attorney of record, the party at whose instance process was issued. The clerk enters the fact of notification on the docket.

If the recipient refuses to accept process, the clerk can mail the papers to him or her at the address to where they are to be served. Service is then considered complete.

The plaintiff may request service by certified mail. The clerk of courts mails the process to the recipient as certified mail, return receipt requested, with instructions to show to whom it was delivered, the date of delivery, and to what address it was delivered. In a divorce case, where the recipient is an individual, the clerk requests restricted delivery. The clerk records the fact of mailing on the docket sheet and makes a similar entry when he or she receives the return recipient.

Out-of-state service is at the request of the plaintiff, and includes service by certified mail and personal delivery by a process server. The certified mail is sent restricted delivery, and the return receipt evidences completion. Failure of delivery permits the plaintiff to request service by publication.

When the defendant cannot be located, or he or she refuses to accept service, service by publication permits the plaintiff to notify him or her of the pending divorce by publication of a notice. With the approval of the court, the clerk directs that a notice be made by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the complaint is filed. If no newspaper of general circulation is published in the county, then publication shall be in a newspaper of general circulation published in an adjoining county.

The notice contains a summary statement of the object of the complaint and demand for relief, and notifies the defendant that he or she must file an answer within 30 days after the last publication on or before a date certain specified in the notice which said date shall be thirty (30) days after the last publication. The notice is published at least once a week for four successive weeks.

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