Due process requires that a Defendant/Respondent be given the best notice practicable under the circumstances. In many cases, this means that the Defendant/Respondent must be personally served with a lawsuit/petition/complaint. Several exceptions exist to this rule. For example, under Missouri Rule 54.13(b), personal service may be had by leaving a copy of the summons and petition at the individual’s home with an individual over the age of 15. Thus, a roommate may lawfully be served to effectuate service.
One of the more common and controversial exceptions is service by publication where a notice is printed in the local newspaper to apprise the individual of the pending legal action and their right to respond. Judges do not prefer this method because as a practical matter individuals do not usually see these types of notices. On the other hand, for those individuals whose whereabouts are unknown, or for those individuals who are purposefully avoiding service, service by publication may be the only choice. There are limitations, though, in terms of what you can receive. For instance, money damages usually are not awarded under a default judgment where service was had by publication.
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