which state did this take place in?
in California, you first have to get permission from the court to allow "service by publication". To do this, you must first exercise due diligence to locate the person. This usually means having a private investigator look for them, since the court prefers having a 3rd party capable of using all resources available to locate the defendant. A private investigator will probably charge $100-$300 for his or her services, but the amount can be more or less. If the person still can't be found, you have to file a motion for service by publication with an accompanying order. Ask your local law librarian for a sample form. If the court grants your motion, you will have to run the notice in the newspaper most likely to read by the defendant once a week for four consecutive weeks. It's not easy, but the court wants to make sure that we truly can't be found before things proceed without noticing us. Best of luck.
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