Can I serve a summons on a respondent’s attorney or can I force an attorney to give the address of a client?

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Can I serve a summons on a respondent’s attorney or can I force an attorney to give the address of a client?

I have 1 minor child with my wife. We have been separated for 3 years. We were going to sign an uncontested divorce however, when i sent her the documents she hired an attorney and moved out of state. She never signed the documents, and I don’t know where she nor my daughter live. I filed a petition at my county court and I wish to gain custody of my child. I need to serve her a copy of the petition, but I don’t know where to.

Asked on October 14, 2010 under Family Law, Florida

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Since this petition is the first document in the case, it would be advisable to contact your wife's attorney and ask if the attorney would be willing to accept service of process on behalf of your wife.  If so, you should include a notice of acknowledgment and receipt for the attorney to sign and return to you to document for the court that valid service of process occurred. The attorney won't provide you with your wife's current address for service of process.  The attorney cannot be compelled to provide the address of a client.

If the attorney is unwilling to accept service, you will need to serve the documents on your wife by publication.  Service by publication is running the petition in the legal notices section of your local newspaper.  Although your wife has left the area and will not see that notice in your local newspaper, this is still valid service of process since her whereabouts are unknown.  Check with the court clerk to find out how long the notice has to run in the newspaper to constitute valid service of process.  The duration of time that the notice is required to run varies from state to state.

Subsequent documents in the case can be served by mail on your wife's attorney by including a proof of service with the documents.


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