Where do I file my claim if the defendant lives out of state?

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Where do I file my claim if the defendant lives out of state?

My ex lives in one stae and I live in nother. He owes me $6,000. We have several conversations about money owed, his promise to pay after he’s back from deployment, and the charges made on my credit card that I didn’t allow. He is back from Afghanistan and is ignoring me completely. Also, he is moving soon and I fear I will not have his new address to serve him. What do I do?

Asked on December 13, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Ohio

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A lawsuit can be filed in the state where the plaintiff resides or in the state where the defendant resides or in the state where the claim arose.  For convenience purposes such as filing documents with the court and court appearances, it would be advisable to file the lawsuit in your state.

You can have the defendant served by a process server in his state to reduce expenses.  You can find process servers listed under attorney services in the Yellow Pages or online.  If the defendant moves and you don't know his address, the process server can do a skip trace to locate the defendant.  Another alternative if you don't know the defendant's whereabouts would be to have him served by publication.  Service by publication  is running a notice of the lawsuit in the legal notices section of a newspaper for the period of time required in your state's court.  The court clerk in the court where you file your lawsuit can tell you how long the notice has to run in the legal notices section of a newspaper to constitute valid service by publication.  The amount of time varies from state to state.  Service by publication is effective even if the defendant never sees the notice in the newspaper.  Again, service by publication is only if you don't know the defendant's whereabouts.  If the defendant moves and you don't know his address, it would be advisable to have a process server do a skip trace before resorting to service by publication  as service by publication requires more time and expense than a skip trace.


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