Rule 1930.4. Service of Original Process in Domestic Relations Matters.
(a) Persons Who May Serve. Original process in all domestic relations matters, including Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation matters, may be served by the sheriff or a competent adult:
(1) by handing a copy to the defendant;
(2) by handing a copy:
(i) at the residence of the defendant to an adult member of the family with whom the defendant resides; but if no adult member of the family is found, then to an adult person in charge of such residence;
(ii) at the residence of the defendant to the clerk or manager of the hotel, inn, apartment house, boarding house or other place of lodging at which the defendant resides;
(iii) at any office or usual place of business of the defendant to the defendants agent or to the person for the time being in charge; or
(3) pursuant to special order of court.
See Pa.R.C.P. No. 76 for the definition of competent adult. Original process served on an incarcerated person in a domestic relations action must also include notice of any hearing in such action and specific notice of the incarcerated individuals right to apply to the court for a writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum to enable him or her to participate in the hearing. The writ is available if an incarcerated individual wishes to testify as provided by statute or rule, or if the incarcerated individuals testimony is sought by another. Vanaman v. Cowgill, 526 A.2d 1226 (Pa. Super. 1987). See 23 Pa.C.S. § 4342(j) and Pa.R.C.P. No. 1930.3. In determining whether a writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum should be issued, a court must weigh the factors set forth in Salemo v. Salemo, 554 A.2d 563 (Pa. Super. 1989).
(b) Service in Protection From Abuse and Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Matters. If personal service cannot be completed within 48 hours after a Protection From Abuse or a Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation petition is filed, the court may authorize alternative service by special order as set forth in subdivision (a)(3), including, but not limited to, service by mail pursuant to subdivision (c) of this rule.
(c) Service by Mail.
(1) Except in Protection from Abuse and Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation matters, original process in all domestic relations matters may be served by mailing the original process, a notice or order to appear, if required, and other orders or documents, as necessary, to the defendants last known address by both regular and certified mail.
(i) Delivery of the certified mail shall be restricted to the addressee only and a return receipt shall be requested.
(ii) If the certified mail is refused by the defendant, but the regular mail is not returned within 15 days, service may be deemed complete.
(iii) If the mail is returned with notation by the postal authorities that it was unclaimed, service shall be made by another means pursuant to these rules.
(2) In Protection from Abuse and Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation matters, original process may be served by mail pursuant to this rule, if authorized by the court under subdivision (a)(3).
Nothing in this rule is intended to preclude a judicial district from utilizing the United States Postal Services return receipt electronic option, or any similar service that electronically provides a return receipt, when using certified mail, return receipt requested.
(d) Acceptance of Service. In lieu of service pursuant to this rule, the defendant or the defendants authorized agent may accept service of original process as set forth in Pa.R.C.P. No. 402(b).
(e) Service Within the Commonwealth. Original process shall be served on a defendant located within the Commonwealth within 30 days of the filing of the original process.
(f) Service Outside of the Commonwealth. Original process shall be served on a defendant located outside the Commonwealth within 90 days of the filing of the original process:
(1) by any means authorized by this rule;
(2) in the manner provided by the law of the jurisdiction in which defendant will be served;
(3) in the manner provided by treaty; or
(4) as directed by the foreign authority in response to a letter rogatory or request.
In Protection from Abuse matters, a defendant outside of the Commonwealth must be personally served with original process. Service may be made either in accordance with subdivisions (a) and (b) governing personal service or as provided for by the law in the jurisdiction where the defendant resides or is located. If personal service cannot be completed within 48 hours after the filing of the original process, service outside of the Commonwealth may be made by other means authorized by this rule.
Sections 5323 and 5329(2) of the Judicial Code, 42 Pa.C.S. § § 5323 and 5329(2), provide additional alternative procedures for service outside the Commonwealth. For Protection from Abuse matters, personal service outside of the Commonwealth must be attempted first before service can be made by certified and regular mail or by other means prescribed in subsection (f) for out-of-state service.
(g) Reinstatement of Original Process. If service is not made as required by subdivision (e) or (f), the prothonotary shall reinstate the original process upon praecipe accompanied by the original process, or praecipe indicating that the original process has been lost or destroyed accompanied by a substituted original process.
(1) Original process may be reinstated at any time and any number of times. A new party defendant may be named in a reinstated original process.
(2) Reinstated original process shall be served as required by subdivision (e) or (f).
(h) Proof of Service.
(1) Proof of service shall state:
(i) the date and time of service;
(ii) the place of service;
(iii) the manner in which service was made;
(iv) the identity of the person served; and
(v) other facts necessary for the court to determine whether proper service has been made.
(2) Original Process Served.
(i) Personal Service Pursuant to Subdivision (a).
(A) The person serving the original process shall complete a proof of service.
(B) If a person other than a sheriff serves the original process, the proof of service shall be by an affidavit.
(C) The proof of service shall be filed in the appropriate filing office within ten days of the date of service.
(ii) Service by Mail Pursuant to Subdivision (c).
(A) Proof of service by mail shall be by an affidavit that includes the certified mail return receipt signed by the defendant except as set forth in (B).
(B) If the defendant has refused to accept the certified mail, the proof of service shall include the returned envelope with the notation that the defendant refused to accept delivery and an affidavit stating that the regular mail was not returned within 15 days after mailing.
(C) The proof of service shall be filed in the appropriate filing office within ten days of the date the defendant signed the certified mail return receipt or after the passage of time set forth in subdivision (c)(1)(ii).
(iii) Acceptance of Service Pursuant to Subdivision (d).
(A) If the defendant or the defendants authorized agent accepts service of the original process as set forth in subdivision (d), the defendant or the defendants authorized agent shall sign an Acceptance of Service.
(B) The Acceptance of Service shall be filed in the appropriate filing office within ten days of accepting service.
See Pa.R.C.P. No. 402(b) for the prescribed form document.
(3) Original Process Not Served.
(i) If the defendant cannot be served within the time allowed in subdivision (e) or (f), the person attempting service shall complete a proof of no service promptly.
(ii) If a person other than a sheriff attempts service of the original process, the proof of no service shall be by an affidavit stating with particularity the efforts made to effect service.
(iii) The proof of no service shall be filed in the appropriate filing office within ten days of the expiration of time allowed for service in subdivision (e) or (f).
See Pa.R.C.P. No. 1910.4(a). The Domestic Relations Section is the filing office for child support, spousal support and alimony pendente lite cases.
See Pennsylvania Rule of Professional Conduct 7.3(b)(4). The timing of an attorneys solicitation of a prospective client in actions governed by the Family Court Rules, see Pa.R.C.P. No. 1931(a), and actions pursuant to the Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act, see 42 Pa.C.S. § § 62A0362A20, is restricted until proof of service appears on the docket.
(i) Appearance at Hearing or Conference. A party appearing for the hearing or conference will be deemed to have been served.
The provisions of this Rule 1930.4 adopted October 2, 1995, effective January 1, 1996, 25 Pa.B. 4518; amended May 14, 1999, effective July 1, 1999, 29 Pa.B. 2767; amended October 11, 2002, effective immediately, 32 Pa.B. 5263; amended August 8, 2006, effective immediately, 36 Pa.B. 4709; amended March 4, 2014, effective in 30 days on April 3, 2014, 44 Pa.B. 1749; amended March 4, 2015, effective in 30 days on April 3, 2015, 45 Pa.B. 1354; amended October 6, 2016, effective January 1, 2017, 46 Pa.B. 6612; amended September 12, 2018, effective September 28, 2018, 48 Pa.B. 6257. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (392657) to (392659).
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