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Instructions for Alternate Service

What is alternate service?

Usually when you start a case you are required to serve the defendant by a process server or certified mail/restricted delivery/return receipt. However, sometimes you cannot locate the defendant. In that situation, you may ask the court for permission to serve the defendant in a different way. For example, you can ask to post on the court’s legal notice website, post to someone’s social media account, email, publish in a newspaper that the defendant reads or post at a shelter or some other location the defendant is known to frequent.

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How do I do alternate service?

Before filing anything, you need to try every method to find the defendant, which is called “diligent inquiry.” Then you have to file a request to the court asking to serve the defendant by another method, such as posting to the court’s legal notice website. You can read about all of the steps below to ask the court to post to the court’s legal notice website or another method of service.

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What are the steps to post to the legal notice website?

  1. Begin your diligent inquiry. This means you must look really hard for someone. Please see our Tips on Locating People for ideas of how to look. Keep track of what you try to find the defendant. If you can't find the defendant, you'll have to file a request asking for permission to do alternate service and list out what you tried, including that you:
  2. Search military locator services.
    You may be able to find out if someone is on active duty by typing in their specific personal information at: This won't give you their contact information but may help you to figure out where to keep looking. If you are a dependent, you also may be able to locate the member by contacting the First Sergeant of the last known unit. If you think the defendant is in the Air Force or Marines, you may contact:
  3. Check to see if the defendant is in a state jail facility in Alaska, you can check the VINE website to see where the defendant is being held. You can call the Department of Corrections Chief Classification Officer at 907-269-7426.
  4. If you cannot find the person after trying all of the different things listed above, you will need to open your case so that you can get a summons from the court. See the Alaska Court System Self-Help Services home page to learn how to start your type of case.
  5. After your case is open, if you were NOT able to serve the opposing party by the US postal service or a process server because you could not find them or they refused service, you can ask the court to serve the opposing party by another method such as posting on the court's free legal notice website. If you think there is a better method to notify the defendant, such as posting to a social media account, e-mailing, publishing in a newspaper, or physically posting on a bulletin board, you can ask for that specifically.

    Fill out:

  6. Make one copy of each of these documents and any attachments.
  7. File the original documents at your local court. Keep one copy for your records.
  8. Now you wait. The clerk will be directed to sign the Notice to Absent Defendant if the court finds your attempts to notify the defendant to be sufficient. The court will then post the notice on the Alaska Court System's legal notice website for 4 weeks in a row.
  9. Before the last week of posting, you must send a copy of the Notice and the complaint by regular first class mail and registered or certified mail to the defendant at defendant’s last known residence or workplace. However, if you have already tried to serve the defendant by certified mail, then before the last week of posting, just send by regular first class mail.


  10. After the Notice has been posted on the legal notice website for 4 weeks, the clerk will complete a certificate of service of posting to the Alaska Court System’s legal notice website. The court will put the certificate of service of posting in your case file and send you a copy in the mail.

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How do I know whether to post to the court's legal notice website or use another method?

Choose the method that is most likely to give the other side notice of the case. Posting to the court’s legal notice website is free and is the method to use if you do not know if another way that is more likely to notify the other side about the case. But if you think that posting on a social media account, e-mailing, publishing in the newspaper, or posting a paper notice on a bulletin board is more likely to give the other side notice of the case, you can ask the court to serve by that method. Be aware that some methods have costs like publishing in a newspaper’s legal notice section.

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What happens after the alternate service is done?

If the defendant does not answer, you may file for default 30 days after the last day of required publication or posting. If the defendant does answer, your case will move forward as a contested case the trial judge will set hearings and a trial if needed to resolve the issues in your case.

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What forms do I use for alternate service?

See the Alternate Service Packet, SHC-PAC2.

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1 November 2018
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