2020 Georgia Code
Title 15 - Courts
Chapter 11 - Juvenile Code
Article 3 - Dependency Proceedings
Part 6 - Summons and Service
§ 15-11-161. Service of Summons

Universal Citation: GA Code § 15-11-161 (2020)
  1. If a party to be served with a summons is within this state and can be found, the summons shall be served upon him or her personally as soon as possible and at least 72 hours before the adjudication hearing.
  2. If a party to be served is within this state and cannot be found but his or her address is known or can be ascertained with due diligence, the summons shall be served upon such party at least five days before the adjudication hearing by mailing him or her a copy by registered or certified mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested.
  3. If a party to be served is outside this state but his or her address is known or can be ascertained with due diligence, service of the summons shall be made at least five days before the adjudication hearing either by delivering a copy to such party personally or by mailing a copy to him or her by registered or certified mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested.
  4. If, after due diligence, a party to be served with a summons cannot be found and such party's address cannot be ascertained, whether he or she is within or outside this state, the court may order service of the summons upon him or her by publication. The adjudication hearing shall not be earlier than five days after the date of the last publication.
    1. Service by publication shall be made once a week for four consecutive weeks in the official organ of the county where the petition alleging dependency has been filed. Service shall be deemed complete upon the date of the last publication.
    2. When served by publication, the notice shall contain the names of the parties, except that the anonymity of a child shall be preserved by the use of appropriate initials, and the date the petition alleging dependency was filed. The notice shall indicate the general nature of the allegations and where a copy of the petition alleging dependency can be obtained and require the party to be served by publication to appear before the court at the time fixed to answer the allegations of the petition alleging dependency.
    3. Within 15 days after the filing of the order of service by publication, the clerk of court shall mail a copy of the notice, a copy of the order of service by publication, and a copy of the petition alleging dependency to the last known address of the party being served by publication.
  5. Service of the summons may be made by any suitable person under the direction of the court.
  6. The court may authorize the payment from county funds of the costs of service and of necessary travel expenses incurred by persons summoned or otherwise required to appear at the hearing.

(Code 1981, §15-11-161, enacted by Ga. L. 2013, p. 294, § 1-1/HB 242.)

Cross references.

- Amendment to Juvenile Court petition, Uniform Rules for the Juvenile Courts of Georgia, Rule 6.6.

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions under former Code 1933, §§ 24-2406 and 24A-1702, pre-2000 Code Section 15-11-27 and pre-2014 Code Section 15-11-39.1, which were subsequently repealed but were succeeded by provisions in this Code section, are included in the annotations for this Code section. See the Editor's notes at the beginning of the chapter.

There was no equal protection violation in framework of this former Code section since similarly situated residents and nonresidents were accorded equal treatment and it was only in cases when laws were applied differently to different persons under the same or similar circumstances that the equal protection of the law was denied. In re M.A.C., 244 Ga. 645, 261 S.E.2d 590 (1979) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-1702).

When service by publication sufficient in adoption proceeding.

- Service by publication was sufficient to bestow jurisdiction over putative fathers of children whose natural mothers wish to give the children up for adoption. In re J.B., 140 Ga. App. 668, 231 S.E.2d 821 (1976) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-1702).

Service of summons and termination petition was ineffective since, even though the summons was left at the mother's residence, there was no evidence that the summons was left with a statutorily appropriate person, and service of the petition the day before the hearing was not timely. In re D.R.W., 229 Ga. App. 571, 494 S.E.2d 379 (1997) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-27).

Order terminating an out-of-state incarcerated parent's parental rights was reversed as: (1) service of the termination petition and summons upon the parent via certified mail was insufficient under both O.C.G.A. § 9-11-4 and former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-96(c) (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-281 and15-11-282); (2) a correctional officer who personally delivered the documents to the parent did not amount to sufficient and lawful personal service as the officer lacked the inherent authority to perfect service under O.C.G.A. § 9-11-4(c) and no court order existed to grant the authority; and (3) the trial court's reliance on the service provisions of former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-39.1 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-161,15-11-282,15-11-400,15-11-424, and15-11-531), a statute dealing with service in juvenile court proceedings generally, was misplaced. In the Interest of C.S., 282 Ga. 7, 644 S.E.2d 812 (2007) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-39.1)

Service by publication in termination proceeding.

- Juvenile court may order service of process by publication in a termination proceeding if, after reasonable effort, a party cannot be found and the party's address cannot be ascertained. In re M.J.B., 238 Ga. App. 833, 520 S.E.2d 497 (1999) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-39.1)

Service by publication in deprivation proceeding.

- Juvenile court erred in granting service by publication of the paternal grandparents' petition alleging that the mother's children were deprived because the grandparents failed to exercise reasonable diligence to find the mother, the juvenile court concluded that the mother could not be found with due diligence within the State of Georgia without any competent evidence to support that finding, and the juvenile court failed to place any burden on the grandparents to determine what notice the grandparents had given to the mother of the grandparents' deprivation petition and simply relied on evidence about the father's efforts to contact her; the grandparents did not file a written motion for service by publication and supporting affidavit as required by O.C.G.A. § 9-11-4(f)(1)(A), the grandparents had some means of communicating with the mother because the father had the mother's telephone number and was able to notify the mother by phone of the 72-hour hearing, the grandparents could have contacted the mother's relatives to ascertain the mother's whereabouts, and the grandparents could have attempted to serve the mother personally or by registered or certified mail at the mother's prior address. Taylor v. Padgett, 300 Ga. App. 314, 684 S.E.2d 434 (2009) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-39.1)

Service by correctional officer on incarcerated parent.

- Personal service of a summons and a petition of deprivation, by a correctional officer upon an incarcerated parent, was sufficient as the service procedures in the Civil Practice Act, O.C.G.A. § 9-11-1 et seq., were not adopted nor were binding on the juvenile court, and the correctional officer was acting under the direction of the court for the purposes of former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-39.1(c) (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-161,15-11-282,15-11-400,15-11-424, and15-11-531). In the Interest of A.J.M., 277 Ga. App. 646, 627 S.E.2d 399 (2006) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-39.1)

Service not perfected on incarcerated person.

- Deprivation order had to be vacated and the case remanded because service of the deprivation petition on the parent in question, who was incarcerated, was not perfected in accordance with former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-39.1(a) (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-161,15-11-282,15-11-400,15-11-424, and15-11-531). The parent had not waived personal service and personal service was not waived simply by actual notice having been achieved. In the Interest of A. R., 296 Ga. App. 62, 673 S.E.2d 586 (2009) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-39.1)

Requirement of "reasonable effort" to find party.

- Former statute required a showing by the department that a "reasonable effort" had been made to find a putative father or ascertain his address. In re J.B., 140 Ga. App. 668, 231 S.E.2d 821 (1976) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-39.1)

Permissibility of publication notice dependent upon investigation.

- Whether publication notice is permissible necessarily depends upon an investigation of whether the whereabouts of putative fathers were unknown and whether the fathers could be found with reasonable diligence. In re J.B., 140 Ga. App. 668, 231 S.E.2d 821 (1976) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-39.1)

If there was no service of process and notice as required by the former provisions and there was no valid waiver of notice of the pending charge by service of process or otherwise, the entire hearing is a nullity. In re W.M.F., 180 Ga. App. 397, 349 S.E.2d 265 (1986) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-39.1)

Waiver of right to notice.

- If neither the juvenile nor the juvenile's mother were represented by counsel at the dispositional hearing, neither party knew the nature of the charge filed against the minor, and neither party knew of the serious consequences which may result in the case of an adverse adjudication of the petition filed against the juvenile, it is highly unlikely that the parties understood the significance of waiving the parties right to prior notice of the pending charge. In re W.M.F., 180 Ga. App. 397, 349 S.E.2d 265 (1986) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-39.1)

Timeliness of petition.

- Juvenile was entitled to a copy of the delinquency petition filed against the juvenile, and pursuant to former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-39.1 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-161,15-11-282,15-11-400,15-11-424, and15-11-531), the juvenile had a right to receive the petition at least 24 hours prior to the adjudicatory hearing; however, the juvenile waived any objection the juvenile had on the grounds of improper service since the juvenile received the petition right before the hearing as the juvenile did not make an objection or request a continuance on the basis that the juvenile was unprepared. In the Interest of E.S., 262 Ga. App. 768, 586 S.E.2d 691 (2003) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-39.1)

Permitting state's mid-trial amendment of petition to change the charge against the juvenile from a misdemeanor to a felony was error since the amendment was done without notice and provision of a continuance to allow additional time for preparation of a defense. In re D.W, 232 Ga. App. 777, 503 S.E.2d 647 (1998) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-39.1)

Reliance on section by trial court misplaced.

- Because former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-96(c) (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-281 and15-11-282) related specifically to service in termination-of-parental-rights proceedings, the trial court's reliance on the service provisions of former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-39.1 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-161,15-11-282,15-11-400,15-11-424, and15-11-531), a statute dealing with service in juvenile court proceedings generally, was misplaced; moreover, for purposes of statutory interpretation, a specific statute prevailed over a general statute, absent any indication of a contrary legislative intent. In the Interest of C.S., 282 Ga. 7, 644 S.E.2d 812 (2007) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-39.1)

RESEARCH REFERENCES

Am. Jur. 2d.

- 47 Am. Jur. 2d, Juvenile Courts and Delinquent and Dependent Children, §§ 72, 73.

C.J.S.

- 43 C.J.S., Infants, § 195 et seq.

U.L.A.

- Uniform Juvenile Court Act (U.L.A.) § 23.

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