George Zimmerman can be served with divorce papers by publication

September 24, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Good morning:

George Zimmerman can be served with divorce papers by publication.


Florida Statutes 49.021: Service of process by publication, upon whom.—Where personal service of process or, if appropriate, service of process under s. 48.194 cannot be had, service of process by publication may be had upon any party, natural or corporate, known or unknown, including:

(1) Any known or unknown natural person, and, when described as such, the unknown spouse, heirs, devisees, grantees, creditors, or other parties claiming by, through, under, or against any known or unknown person who is known to be dead or is not known to be either dead or alive.

When a lawyer representing a party to a lawsuit, or a party representing himself without a lawyer, cannot serve a summons and the complaint or petition on the opposing party because he cannot locate the opposing party, the law permits service to be accomplished by publishing a copy of the summons and the complaint in the local newspaper every day for 90 successive days.

Publication in the Orlando Sentinel would suffice.

At the end of the 90 days, the lawyer must file an affidavit of service by publication attaching the summons and complaint or petition and describing the efforts undertaken to find the opposing party.

Service by publication will not be deemed effective, unless all reasonable efforts to locate the opposing party were attempted without success.

In the typical case, the party attempting to obtain service on the non-responding party, goes to court to obtain an order of default after the time period within which to respond to the complaint or petition expires, which is usually 20 days and starts running after the 90 day period for service by publication.

The purpose for requiring all reasonable efforts to serve the opposing party in person before resorting to service by publication is to prevent a party from obtaining a default judgment against another party without actual notice to them.

Someone in the comments mentioned the possibility that Shellie’s lawyer, Kelly Sims, might be able to serve Mark O’Mara with the divorce papers, however, the attorney typically has to agree to accept service for the client and I doubt he would agree to do that since he announced that he will not represent him on the divorce and may not know where he is living or even be in contact with him.

My impression is GZ has refused to assist O’Mara to recoup his costs in the criminal case and O’Mara no longer wants to have anything to do with him with the single exception of the pending NBC lawsuit that probably is not worth anything, given the acquittal.

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