Finding Legal Help
You are not required to hire an attorney, but legal matters can be complicated. Consider talking to an attorney to go over your options. See the Finding Legal Help page for information about free and low cost ways to get legal help.
Como encontrar ayuda legal
Usted no está obligado a contratar un abogado, pero los asuntos legales pueden ser complicados. Considere la posibilidad de hablar con un abogado para hablar de sus opciones. Para información sobre cómo obtener ayuda legal vea nuestra página Como encontrar ayuda legal.
Motion for Alternative Service
Utah law requires that when a lawsuit is filed with the court, the plaintiff/petition must serve the defendant/respondent in a special way to notify them about the case, provide them with copies of all the papers filed, and give time to respond to the complaint or petition.
Utah Rules of Civil Procedure 4(d)(1) - (d)(3) describe the ways a party can be served when a case is started.
If the defendant/respondent can't be found for service
Sometimes the plaintiff/petitioner can’t find the defendant/respondent to have them served, or believes that the defendant/respondent is trying to avoid service.
The plaintiff/petitioner must use “reasonable diligence” to find the person, which means they have to make a good effort. See our Finding People for Service of Process page for information about ways to try to find someone.
If the plaintiff/petitioner still can’t find the person, they can ask the court for permission to use “alternative service.”
Motion for alternative service
A plaintiff/petitioner can use alternative service only if they first get the permission of the judge. The way to ask for permission is to file a Motion for Alternative Service.
In the Motion, the plaintiff/petitioner must clearly describe all the things they have done to try to find and serve the defendant/respondent and why those efforts didn’t work.
It is not enough to say “I don’t know where he is” or “I haven’t seen her in 15 years.” The plaintiff/petitioner must try to find the person.
Here is a sample explanation of a plaintiff/petitioner’s efforts:
- December 15 – I called defendant’s mother, Jane Smith because I know he always stays in touch with his mother. She said she won’t tell me where he is.
- December 16 – I called defendant’s old boss, Joe Osborne, at Consolidated Industries. He said he hasn’t seen or heard from defendant in more than a year
- December 17 – I called defendant’s former roommate, John Brown. He said defendant left without any forwarding address.
- December 17 – I Googled defendant’s name and found he has a Facebook page, which says he is living in Las Vegas.
Alternative service options
In the Motion for Alternative Service, the plaintiff/petitioner must explain which method(s) they think are most likely to give the defendant/respondent actual notice of the court case.
One option is to publish the summons in the legal notices section of the newspaper once a week for a number of weeks. This option can be expensive because newspapers charge to publish the notice. Also, this option may not be effective because very few people check the legal notices to see if someone might have filed a lawsuit against them.
Utah law allows the judge to order other methods to notify someone, including:
- Utah Press Association's Legal Notices (utahlegals.com) webpage
- text messaging,
- social media (Facebook, Twitter), or
- a combination of these methods
If the judge gives the plaintiff/petitioner permission to use alternative service, they should carefully read the judge’s order to see what methods the judge is requiring.
Proof of service
The plaintiff/petitioner may serve only by the method(s) the judge ordered. Once service is complete, the plaintiff/petitioner must file proof of service with the court.
If the judge has ordered a combination of these types of service, the plaintiff/petitioner must provide proof that they have done all of them, but would file just one Proof of Service by Alternative Means form.
- Ex Parte Motion for Alternative Service - PDF | Word
- Request to Submit for Decision - PDF | Word
- Order on Motion for Alternative Service - PDF | Word
- Summons for Publication -
(Form given to newspaper, if the judge orders service by publication)
- Filing Procedures
- Finding an Attorney
- Finding People for Service of Process
- Free Legal Clinics
- Rules of Civil Procedure
- Service of Divorce/Custody Papers in Mexico
The Utah State Courts mission is to provide the people an open, fair, efficient, and independent system for the advancement of justice under the law.