Service by Publication: How to Serve a Summons and Complaint by Publishing Notice in the Newspaper
Disclaimer: This guide is intended as general information only. Your case may have factors requiring different procedures or forms. The information and instructions are provided for use in the Sacramento County Superior Court. Please keep in mind that each court may have different requirements. If you need further assistance, consult a lawyer.
Click here to download the complete guide with step-by-step instructions for completing the forms.
This packet includes:
When filing a lawsuit, you are required to serve the other party with your summons and complaint, to notify them of the lawsuit. If the other party cannot be located, you will have to ask the court for permission to publish the summons in the newspaper. Publication of Summons, as set forth in Code of Civil Procedure section 415.50, is considered a method of last resort. The court can only approve your request for an Order for Publication of Summons if you show that the other party cannot be served in any other manner. You will need to prove to the court that you have made exhaustive attempts to locate the other party.
Step 1: Search for the Absent Party
The court will require an exhaustive search for the other party before permitting publication of a summons. To conduct an exhaustive search for the other party:
- Try personal service, using the Sheriff or process server. Ask for documentation of their attempts to locate the party.
- Contact all relatives and friends who might know the party's whereabouts. Keep records of all these contacts, such as a diary detailing telephone calls and copies of letters you send, etc.
- Contact the party's last known employer.
- Search the telephone directory for the location where party was last known to live.
- Check the County Recorder's and County Tax Assessor's indexes for the location where the party was last known to live or own real property.
- Check the local jail inmate list, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation inmate locator service.
- Search for the defendant using common, free, search engines.
For more information on locating a person or business, see our "Finding People & Businesses" guide, available on our website at http://www.saclaw.org/pages/finding-people.aspx.
Step 2: Apply to the Court for Permission to Publish your Summons
After all these attempts, if you are still unable to locate the other party, you may ask the court for permission for publish your summons in the newspaper.
a) Determine the appropriate newspaper for publication of your summons. This newspaper must be a paper of general circulation in the location where the party was last known to reside. Click here for a list of newspapers of general circulation in Sacramento County. Contact the newspapers for pricing information.
b) Complete your Ex Parte Application for Order for Publication of Summons, Points and Authorities, and Supporting Declaration. Obtain declarations from anyone else involved in the search for the other party (sample Declaration). Prepare an Order for Publication of Summons for the judge's signature. Click on a document's hyper-linked name for a sample of and instructions on how to complete the required document.
c) File your Ex Parte Application for Order for Publication of Summons and Supporting Declaration and lodge your proposed Order for Publication of Summons at the Gordon D. Schaber Courthouse located at 720 Ninth Street downtown. The current filing fee is $20. You can check the current filing fees in Sacramento at http://www.saccourt.ca.gov/fees/docs/fee-schedule.pdf.Your documents will be forwarded to the law and motion department and will be processed without hearing, typically within five days. Provide the court with a self-addressed stamped envelope to facilitate the return of the order to you. If your application is granted, the court will return your signed Order for Publication of Summons to you in the self-addressed stamped envelope that you provided. If your request is denied, you will receive an order from the court denying your request. Most often the reason a request is denied is because the court does not feel that adequate steps have been taken to attempt to find the person to be served; however, the notice will state the reason for denial.
Step 3: Publish your Summons
Once the court grants the order to publish, your next step is to publish the Summons in a newspaper. Even though you are publishing the Summons, if you discover the whereabouts of the defendant you should arrange to have that defendant personally served with the Summons and Complaint.
a) Submit your Summons and signed Order for Publication to the newspaper you chose.
b) The newspaper will publish your Summons once a week for four weeks, then provide you with confirmation of publication. Some newspapers will mail you a confirmation, some will have you pick it up, and some will even file it with the court. Contact the newspaper for details.
Step 4: File Your Proof of Service of Summons
a) Fill out and file your Proof of Service of Summons, along with the Confirmation of Publication attached. Pursuant to Government Code §6064, service is deemed complete on the 29th day after the first date of publication.
b) If the other party has not filed a response 30 days after the effective date for service, you may file for default against the other party. You will then be able to continue your case without the other party's participation.