Q. My wife and I are approaching our 10 year anniversary. The marriage has been bad for the last two years – mostly fighting about money because she refuses to go back to work now that both our son is in school. She used to have a very good job earning the same as me and we can’t afford to have her continue to stay home. I filed for divorce shortly after Thanksgiving and have been trying to have her served since the week before Christmas. The process server has been to the house four times and she is home but refuses to answer the door. I know I have to have her served before our anniversary or I risk having to pay alimony for a longer time. I suspect that is the game she is playing.
What can I do to stop the game play?
A. I assume you are no longer living together but still have access to the house. There is no reason you can’t go with the constable, open the door for him/her and facilitate service.
If you reject that idea, you should search your bank and credit card statements for the names of any lawyers she may be consulting. If you find one, give a call and ask if they are representing your wife and if so would they help arrange for her to accept service as it appears she is ducking the constable. This makes a record of your ongoing attempts to effect service.
If you don’t find a lawyer or the lawyer will not cooperate, file a motion with the court asking for permission to serve her by alternate means including but not limited to Federal Express, First Class Mail, email, text, and/or social media direct messaging. I’ve seen judges allow many combinations of the above. In that same motion, ask the court to deem her to have been served as of one of the dates the constable went to her house, documented her car being in the driveway but her failing to answer the door. File an affidavit of the constable in support of your motion detailing his/her efforts to effectuate service stating the dates and times and attaching any photos of the car in the driveway. In this way you can convey to the judge that she is ducking service in an effort to try to elongate the alimony duration should alimony be awarded at some point.
Email questions to email@example.com