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How can I serve my spouse if they are evading service?

An issue that some clients experience is how to serve their spouse if their spouse is attempting to evade service.

Thankfully, from my experience as a divorce lawyer in Calgary, I can say that such a situation is quite rare.

Unless a party obtains permission from the Court to serve their spouse using another method, the documents required to start divorce actions in Calgary must be served upon the Defendant spouse personally. This can cause issues if the spouse is attempting to evade service.

While the Court in Calgary wishes to ensure that the Defendant spouse is aware of the proceedings (which is best proven by the spouse being served personally and the person that serves the spouse swearing an Affidavit of Service), the Court does not wish to place too much of a burden upon the Plaintiff if, for example, the Defendant spouse refuses to answer the door when someone is attempting to serve them. In such a scenario, the Court will allow the Plaintiff to "substitutionally serve" the Defendant if it is a satisfied that, by allowing the Plaintiff to do so, the documents served will be brought to the attention of the Defendant.

So, for example, the Court may allow the Plaintiff to:

Serve one of the Defendant's relatives;

Serve the Defendant's employer;

Allow the Plaintiff to serve the Defendant by registered mail; or

Serve the Defendant by taping the documents to the front door of the Defendant's residence.

Clearly, the Court will require evidence from the Plaintiff as to the steps that they have taken to personally serve the Defendant and why the Plaintiff believes such a method will ensure that the Defendant is aware of the proceedings, but the ability to make such an Application usually ensures that the Defendant is unable to avoid being served simply by being awkward.

If you have any questions regarding the above, or if you would like to contact me to discuss any questions you may have regarding division of property, child support, spousal support, custody and access, guardianship and parenting, separation or divorce, please email me using this link, or call me on 403-538-2105.

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