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Indiana Service of Process for Divorce
The Server

Process servers in Indiana are not licensed, and anyone over 18 and not a party to the case may serve papers. The petitioner or his or her attorney may designate the manner of service. Otherwise, the county clerk makes service by mail or other public means provided the address of the recipient is indicated on the summons or can be determined.

Serving Process

Service of process means delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to the recipient. The summons shows the name and address of the recipient, the court and the cause number, the title of the case, and the name, address, and telephone number of the attorney of the petitioner. The summons also states the time limit for a response, and a clear statement that in case of failure to respond within that time frame, judgment by default may be rendered for the relief demanded in the complaint. The summons may also contain any additional information to expedite proper service.

Divorce papers may be served on an individual, or a person acting in a representative capacity, by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to him or her personally, or by sending the papers to a residence, or place of business or employment, by registered or certified mail or other public means by which a written acknowledgment of receipt may be requested and obtained with return receipt requested and returned showing receipt of the letter, or by serving his or her agent as provided by rule, statute, or valid agreement.

Whenever service is made to an agent, or to a residence or place of business or employment, the server must also mail a copy of the divorce papers first-class mail to the last known address of the person being served, and this fact shall be shown upon the return.

The server makes the return upon a copy of the summons, or attaches a copy to the summons, and then delivers it to the clerk. The return states that service was made upon the person, or if service was not made, “the particular manner in which it was thwarted in terms of fact or in terms of law.”

When, after a diligent search, the respondent “cannot be found, has concealed his whereabouts, or has left the state,” the petitioner may ask the court for permission to serve him or her by publication. The clerk then prepares a summons for publication that contains the name “the person to whom the notice is directed, and, if the person’s whereabouts are unknown or some or all of the parties are unknown, a statement to that effect.” It also contains the court and case number, the title of the complaint, the name and address of the attorney representing the petitioner, a brief statement of the nature of the suit, and a clear statement that the person being sued must respond within thirty [30] days after the last notice of the action is published, and that in case of failure to do so, judgment by default may be entered for the relief demanded in the complaint.

The summons is published three times by the clerk or person making it, the first publication promptly, and each two (2) succeeding publications at least seven (7) and not more that fourteen (14) days after the prior publication, in a newspaper authorized by law to publish notices, and published in the county where the complaint or action is filed. If no newspaper is published in the county, then the summons shall be published in the county within Indiana nearest thereto in which any such paper may be printed, or in a place specially ordered by the court.

Service of summons by publication shall be made and procured by the clerk, by a person appointed by the court for that purpose, or by the clerk or sheriff of another county where publication is to be made.

The clerk or person making the service prepares the return that includes supporting affidavits of the printer containing a copy of the summons that was published, and the dates of publication. The return and affidavits shall be filed with the pleadings and other papers in the case and shall become a part of the record as provided in these rules.

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