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Hello. My name is Nick Slinko, and I am an Associate at the Feldstein Family Law Group. Our firm is often retained to assist individuals with commencing or responding to a Family Law Court Action. Depending on the circumstances, and particularly where there is an urgent situation, such as the potential removal of a child from the jurisdiction or the potential depletion of significant assets, service of an Application and the commencement of a Family Law Court Action take people by surprise. As such, process servers generally do not have difficulty finding the opposing party and serving an Application (which, together with other Court documents, depending on the situation, marks the beginning of a Court Action), however; when the parties attempt negotiation first and this method of dispute resolution fails, parties who anticipate service may make this difficult (intentionally) by evading service, and thus delaying the commencement of proceedings.

What do you do when your spouse or ex-spouse is evading service and they do not have a lawyer, or if they do have a lawyer, but he or she is not willing to accept service?

Believe it or not, people do manage to avoid process servers, and where any re-attempts to serve fail, the party seeking to start the Court Action has options for substituted service. The two most common ways are as follows:

  1. Mailing a copy to the person, together with an Acknowledgement of Service Form; or
  2. Leaving a copy at the person’s place of residence, in an envelope addressed to that person, with anyone who appears to be an adult resident of that property; and subsequently mailing a copy of everything to the person’s address.

The second option is often more effective, as in option a) you are still reliant on some level of cooperation from the receiving party. The second option also allows the serving party to complete the requisite Affidavit of Service Form to be filed along with the Application and other materials.

While Court forms may appear to be easy to fill out and thus easy to serve and file, the reality is that there are many detailed rules and procedures that must be followed in order to properly start and argue a Family Law Court Action.

If you think you might want to commence a Court Application, or if you need assistance in responding to one that has been commenced by your spouse or ex-spouse, please contact our firm at 905-581-7222.

For the Feldstein Family Law Group, I’m Nick Slinko.