Texas is making moves to serve legal orders such as divorce papers through social media and email to your spouse or partner when they can’t be reached or are outright avoiding receiving those legal orders by conventional methods. In early 2021, the Texas Supreme Court approved these changes to the rules in the state. This makes it a lot easier for spouses seeking divorce but can’t reach the other spouse.
It may be surprisingly common for most, but for those who have had trouble locating and serving divorce papers to a spouse and don’t want to have to hire a private investigator for skip tracing, then this can greatly reduce costs and challenges associated with filing for divorce. However, you still have to try the old-fashioned ways first.
Here are the new steps to serving divorce papers in Texas:
First, try to serve documents the traditional. Your first attempts to serve legal documents must include these traditional methods:
- Serve the papers in person (usually through a process server) and provide the court with proof of service
- Send the papers by registered or certified mail with a return receipt requested
Second, ask permission to serve another way:
- If those efforts are unsuccessful, your attorney can file a motion with the court listing the likely location where the defendant (the person you want to serve) can be found. You and your lawyer must also offer proof that traditional attempts to serve the defendant were unsuccessful. The court may then authorize service of process by:
- Serving the intended person by email, social media or other technology that you believe will reach them
- Leaving a copy of the citation or petition with any person older than 16 at the location specified in your statement to the court
Why is service by email and social media allowed?
The revision to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure had been sought for some time. It’s become very easy for people to disappear or simply evade service processors. There was a hold up with getting this way approved because of questions about meeting the constitutional standards of due process. But, now other states have adopted similar changes, and Texas courts did the same.
While it’s not a good idea to offer any details about your divorce over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or another social media platform, this ability to serve a hard-to-reach defendant is helping a lot of people with their family law and divorce disputes.