19 Sep Custody Laws: Search Requirements Before Attempting Constructive Service in Florida Family Law Cases Involving Minor Children
Florida Custody Laws:
Custody laws in Florida can be complex. For instance, what if one of the parents of the children cannot be located? How can you initiate a custodial action against that parent?
Under Florida law, the missing parent is entitled to actual notice of the proceedings when possible, but if he/she cannot be found, the parent initiating the action may attempt to notify the other parent using what is known as “Constructive Notice” of the action.
However, in order to be able to employ the constructive notice method of informing the missing parent that you are initiating a custodial action, the parent must perform a “diligent search” in an attempt to provide the missing parent with actual notice that you are trying to pull them into court. So, how does a parent perform a diligent search for the missing parent in a Florida custody law case?
That parent initiating the action must perform the following actions:
- Inquiry of the United States Post Office through the Freedom of Information Act for the legal parent’s current address or any previous address.
- Investigate the last known employment of the legal parent, including name and address of employer.
- Contact regulatory agencies, including professional or occupational licensing, in the area where the legal parent last resided.
- Use the names and addresses of relatives to the extent such can be reasonably obtained from the petitioner or other sources, contacts with those relatives and inquiry as to the legal father’s last known address. You are to follow up any leads of any addresses where the legal parent may have moved.
- Search for information about the legal parent’s possible death and, if dead, the date and location.
- Search for telephone listings in the area where the legal parent last resided.
- Contact law enforcement agencies in the area where the legal parent last resided.
- Search Highway Patrol records in the state where the legal parent last resided.
- Contact Department of Corrections records in the state where the legal parent last resided.
- Contact hospitals in the last known area of the legal parent’s residence.
- Search records of utility companies, which include water, sewer, cable TV, and electric in the last known area of the legal parent’s residence.
- Search records of the Armed Forces of the U.S. and their response as to whether or not there is any information about the legal parent.
- Search records of the tax assessor’s and tax collector’s office in the area where the legal parent last resided.
- Search of one Internet databank locator services.
- Search Title IV-D (child support enforcement) agency records in the state of the legal parent’s last known address.
If one of these methods lead you to find the missing parent, that is great, your Florida attorney can provide the parent with actual notice of the action. If all of these methods fail, then your attorney can attempt to give constructive notice of the action.