Service and Issuance of Citation When the Other Side Is Incarcerated
This article discusses serving incarcerated persons in Texas with citation and documents in a family law case.
Each person named as a How to Serve the Initial Court Papers (Family Law).in your family law (the form you file to start your ) must be served with the initial papers. See
In order to have an incarcerated respondent served with notice that you have filed suit, contact the sheriff or constable in the county where the respondent is incarcerated. You then can make arrangements to send the initial court papers to the sheriff or constable. In many Texas counties, the constable’s office will be responsible for serving such papers, but in some counties, the sheriff will have this responsibility.
The incarcerated respondent does not have to be served with the initial court papers if he or she filled out and signed a Respondent’s Original Answer form, or a Waiver of Service Only (Specific Waiver) form (the latter of which must be signed before a notary). Check with the facility to see if a notary is available. Incarcerated persons in Texas may be able to complete a waiver of service as an unsworn declaration. TexasLawHelp does not have a waiver of service available that includes an inmate's unsworn declaration.
If the respondent is in a county jail, then call the jail or sheriff’s office in that county to get the physical address.
If the respondent is in prison, you may be able to use one of the following websites to get the address:
(1) If the respondent is in a Texas prison - Texas Department of Criminal Justice Offender Search
(2) If the respondent is in a federal prison - Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator
(3) If the respondent is being held by a U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) - ICE Detainee Locator
You can call the warden of the prison or the administrator of the ICE detention center in order to make sure that the respondent is located at that institution. You will need to be certain of the physical address in order to serve the respondent.
If the incarcerated respondent has a lawyer in the case in question, you should then serve any subsequent documents in the case to that lawyer. If the incarcerated respondent does not have a lawyer, you should contact the warden or top administrator of an ICE detention facility to find out the facility's procedure for getting documents to the incarcerated person.
Incarcerated people may get permission from the court and the institution in which they are incarcerated to appear in court for hearings. The court has a lot of discretion.
Of course, there should be adequate security for the protection of the petitioner. The court and the facility may determine that the respondent’s testimony should be provided to the court by telephone, video, affidavit, deposition or some other means. If an incarcerated person has a lawyer, the lawyer may appear in court to speak on the inmate's behalf.