If your spouse or partner avoids being served legal orders through conventional methods, Texas now allows service of process through social media and email. This change took effect at the beginning of 2021, after the Texas Supreme Court approved changes to rules in the state.
Some people try to evade service processors, so they can avoid receiving divorce petitions, custody orders, and other legal documents. The law change makes it much easier for you to serve legal documents on a current or former spouse. However, you still have to try the old-fashioned ways first.
First, try to serve documents the traditional way
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.