Divorce Service by Publication


Many family law Plaintiff litigants come across the problem that they cannot serve the Defendant with the summons and divorce complaint because the Defendant cannot be found within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

These parties ask, “How can I serve my spouse if I can’t find them?”  The answer is that the law allows service by mail and publication.  First, there must be a diligent search to actually serve the Defendant.  If the Defendant cannot be served after such a search, the Plaintiff may make a motion for the court to allow the publication of the summons in a newspaper, followed by the mailing of the divorce documents to the Defendant at his last known address by registered or certified mail.

Once the summons is published for the allotted time and served on the Defendant by mail, an affidavit is filed under penalty of perjury in the divorce action indicating that these things have been done.  If the registered or certified mail is returned unclaimed, the matter cannot be assigned for hearing until the expiration of six months after the last publication date, date of service at a last and usual place of abode, or date of mailing to the defendant’s last known address.

A motion for publication as described above is brought under Mass.R.Dom.Rel.P. 4(d)(3)-(6).

If you need assistance in your divorce case or potential divorce case, call or email our office today.  We offer a private, free of charge consultation.

Our firm serves all courts in Middlesex, Suffolk, and Bristol County, including the Boston, New Bedford, Fall River and Taunton courthouses.  The cities in Bristol County that we serve include Dartmouth, Attleboro, and Mansfield.  We also serve all courts in Plymouth County, including the cities of Marshfield and Easton.