Section 53.07 is clear regarding a parent whose address and whereabouts are known.
When the custodial parent (who can be summoned and served) does not know where the other parent is and/or has not had contacts with him/her in years:
- What do you do?
- Do you take the other parent's word that X has not been around, or do your intake/investigator look for that parent?
- What do your local judges typically call "reasonable diligence"?
Dawson cites a case in which various public records had been checked, personal visits made etc, and the Court of Appeals found that the "..State had expanded more than the necessary reasonable effort in its futile attempts to find and serve appellant's parents" (In the matter of D.W.L. 828 S.W.2d at 522).
Our juvenile judge in such cases is really close to requiring service by publication (like I used to do for CPS cases) on the absent parent. I am curious to know what you do in the other counties.
Our Court takes the issuance of summonses under Section 53.06(a)(4) very literally ie for custodians, interested parties with whom the juvenile has been placed with, grand-parents etc..
Thanks for your comments.
Our juvenile judge is very good about ordering reimbursement for the county on all expenses relating to the case. Intake explains that to the parent, and that the responsibility will be split between the two IF he/she can help us get service on the absent party. His belief is that, with the carrot of not paying as much $$, the custodial parent will cough up the other, if possible.
If the parent doesn't know where the other parent is, we don't do much about it - except leave the door open so that IF the absconder should be found before the child turns 18 we can assess against him.
Lisa L. Peterson
Nolan County Attorney
If the efforts required by Sec 53.06 and 53.07 have been complied with, I don't believe that service by publication is required. I would argue to the judge that, after all, we are not terminating or altering parental rights (although juvenile court disposition MAY affect possession of the child), thus, the standards required for a Title 2 case aren't required in juvenile cases. I was the prosecutor in the "D.W.L." case that you cited above and our efforts in that case did not include publication service, and the appeals court said we did more than necessary.
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