Alternative Methods of Service for NJ Divorce

The New Jersey Divorce Statutes provide for alternate ways to notify the opposing party of a divorce action if you do not have any contact information for the opposing party. One method is by substitute service on a special agent. This method involves serving the complaint on a person who is likely to be able to get it to the Defendant; typically, a close friend or relative. The other method involves publication of the complaint in the county where the Defendant was last known to reside. For either of the above methods, you must get approval by the court first. The court must be satisfied that every effort has been made to locate the Defendant including but not limited to inquiries of the Defendant’s friends, family, employer as well as inquiries through the post office, department of motor vehicles, voter registration, and the military.

If you are still unable to get contact information for the Defendant despite the inquiries as listed above, you can file a petition with the court for substitute service or service by publication. Where service by publication is granted, you will be responsible to publish notice of the divorce in the paper specified by the court and provide proof to the court that it was in fact published. If the Defendant does not respond in the time frame allotted, the divorce can then move forward. The next step is likely requesting a default judgment for Defendant’s failure to answer or respond.

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