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Maryland Service of Process for Divorce
The Server

In Maryland, service of process may be made by a sheriff or, except as otherwise provided by law, by a competent private person, 18 years of age or older, including an attorney of record, as long as they are not a party to the action.

Serving Process

Generally, Maryland permits service of process in the state or, when authorized by law, outside of the state, by delivering to the recipient a copy of the divorce papers, by leaving them at the individual’s dwelling house or usual place of abode with a resident of suitable age and discretion, or by mailing to him or her by certified mail, requesting: “Restricted Delivery - show to whom, date, address of delivery.”

The summons identifies the court and the assigned docket number, the plaintiff and defendant, the date and the time within which it must be served, the time within which the defendant must respond and the notification to him or her that failure to respond within the time allowed may result in a judgment by default or the granting of the relief sought, and the time within which the return of service shall be made.

Service by certified mail is complete upon delivery. Service outside of the state may also be made in the manner prescribed by the court or prescribed by the foreign jurisdiction if “reasonably calculated to give actual notice.”

In the event of demonstrated evasion of service by the defendant, the court may order that service be made by mailing the divorce papers to his or her last known residence and delivering a copy of each to a person of suitable age and discretion at the place of business of the defendant.

When the whereabouts of the defendant are unknown and after the petitioner has made reasonable efforts to locate him or her, the court may order service by the mailing of a notice to his or her last known address and by the posting of the notice by the sheriff at the courthouse door or on a bulletin board within its immediate vicinity, or by publishing the notice at least once a week in each of three successive weeks in one or more newspapers of general circulation published in the county in which the action is pending.

The mailing and the posting or publication must be done 30 days before the date by which a response must be made. The notice, signed by the clerk, includes the caption of the case, the substance of the complaint and the relief desired, and informs the defendant of the latest date by which the response is to be filed and warns that failure to respond within the time limit may result in a judgment by default or the granting of the relief sought.

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