Title 15
Domestic Relations

Chapter 15
Domestic Abuse Prevention

R.I. Gen. Laws § 15-15-4.1

§ 15-15-4.1. Return of service/alternate service.

(a) The complaint and any order issued under this chapter shall be personally served upon the defendant by a member of the division of sheriffs except as provided in subsections (c), (d), and (f) of this section. Service shall be made without payment of any fee when service is made by a deputy sheriff. At the election of the plaintiff, service, pursuant to the subsection, may also be made by a certified constable authorized to serve process pursuant to § 9-5-10.1. The constable shall be entitled to receive the fee allowed by law for the service of a family court summons. Where the defendant is a minor, the complaint and any order issued under this chapter shall also be personally served upon a parent or guardian of the minor.

(b) Return of service shall be forwarded by the deputy sheriff or certified constable to the clerk of court prior to the date set down for a hearing on the complaint. If service has not been made, the deputy sheriff or constable shall indicate on the summons the reason and the attempts made to serve the defendant.

(c) At the time the return of service is sent to the clerk of the court, the deputy sheriff or certified constable shall cause a copy of the return of service to be sent to the plaintiff and to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

(d) If, at the time of the hearing on the complaint, the court determines that after diligent effort the deputy sheriff or certified constable has been unable to serve the defendant personally, the judge may order an alternate method of service designed to give reasonable notice of the action to the defendant and taking into consideration the plaintiff’s ability to afford the means of service ordered. Alternative service shall include, but not be limited to: service by certified and regular mail at defendant’s last known address (excluding the residence which he or she has been ordered to vacate) or place of employment, leaving copies at the defendant’s dwelling or usual place of abode with a person of suitable age and discretion residing at the defendant’s dwelling or usual place of abode, or by publication in a newspaper for two (2) consecutive weeks. The court shall set a new date for the hearing on the complaint and shall extend the temporary order until that date.

(e) If the defendant appears in person before the court, the necessity for further service is waived and proof of service of that order is not necessary.

(f) If the defendant is served notice regarding the complaint and hearing, but does not appear at the hearing, the clerk of the family court will mail the defendant a copy of the resulting order.

History of Section.
P.L. 1988, ch. 539, § 1; P.L. 1989, ch. 79, § 1; P.L. 1994, ch. 315, § 1; P.L. 2012, ch. 324, § 48; P.L. 2015, ch. 260, § 26; P.L. 2015, ch. 275, § 26.