Service By Publication Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Service By Publication, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Service By Publication?

(n) Service by publication is the constructional communication of the notice, documents etc by publishing the same in newspapers having general circulation in that area, when the addressee cannot be located at his known address

History and Meaning of Service By Publication

Service by publication is a legal process used to notify or serve defendants in a court case when their location is the unknown or they cannot be served with papers personally. This process has been in use in the United States since the early 1800s and is a way to provide due notice to defendants while also satisfying the constitutional requirement of due process. Service by publication also ensures that defendants who may be avoiding service cannot escape legal notice.

The process of service by publication generally involves publishing a notice in a newspaper in the area where the defendant is believed to be located. The notice typically includes information about the legal case, including the name of the parties involved, the date and location of the hearing, and instructions on how to respond or appear in court. Service by publication is often used in cases involving divorce, child custody, and foreclosure.

Examples of Service By Publication

  1. A woman files for divorce from her husband but cannot locate him. She hires a process server to make attempts to locate him, but the husband cannot be found. The court approves service by publication, and a notice regarding the divorce is published in the newspaper. The husband has a certain amount of time to respond before a default judgment is issued.

  2. A bank files for foreclosure on a property but the owner is nowhere to be found. After attempts to locate the owner are unsuccessful, the bank obtains approval for service by publication. A notice regarding the foreclosure is published in the local newspaper, and any interested parties can respond before the foreclosure sale is conducted.

  3. A man is attempting to serve his ex-girlfriend with child custody paperwork, but she has moved without leaving a forwarding address. After attempts to locate her are unsuccessful, the man obtains approval for service by publication. He publishes a notice in the newspaper with information about the child custody case and instructions on how to respond.

Legal Terms Similar to Service By Publication

  1. Due process - the constitutional requirement that legal proceedings must be fair and that a person must be notified of any legal action taken against them.

  2. Default judgment - a ruling made in favor of one party when the other party fails to respond or appear in court.

  3. Personal service - the process of physically delivering legal documents to a person.