A. Service of Citation
Service is required in a suit filed by DFPS as in other original suits per Tex. Fam. Code § 102.009, but most courts do not require service on all those entitled to service before proceeding with the Adversary Hearing. The court may proceed with temporary orders prior to any required service by publication. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.201(f).
1. DFPS Must Make a Diligent Effort to Locate Parent and Relatives
If a parent, as defined by Tex. Fam. Code § 160.102(11), of the child has not been personally served in a suit in which DFPS seeks termination, DFPS must make a diligent effort to locate that parent. Tex. Fam. Code § 161.107(b).
If a parent has not been personally served and cannot be located, DFPS shall make a diligent effort to locate a relative of the missing parent to give the relative an opportunity to request appointment as the child’s managing conservator. Tex. Fam. Code § 161.107(c).
2. Relative Defined for Diligent Search Purposes
A relative means a parent, grandparent, adult sibling, or child. Tex. Fam. Code § 161.107(a)(2). If DFPS is not able to locate a missing parent or a relative of that parent and sufficient information is available concerning the physical whereabouts of the parent or relative, DFPS shall request the Office of the Attorney General to use the parental locater service to determine the location of the missing parent or relative. Tex. Fam. Code § 161.107(d).
DFPS shall be required to provide evidence to the court to show what actions were taken by DFPS in making a diligent effort to locate the missing parent and relative of the missing parent. Tex. Fam. Code § 161.107(e).
3. Citation by Publication and Diligent Search
Once DFPS has made the effort and has been unsuccessful, DFPS can file a Motion to Cite by Publication under Tex. R. Civ. P. 109.
Tex. R. Civ. P. 109 requires that before citation by publication can be issued by the clerk, the petitioner must file an affidavit of “due diligence”. That rule also requires the court trying the case to inquire into the sufficiency of the diligence exercised in attempting to ascertain the residence or whereabouts of the known parent who cannot be located, before granting any judgment on such service.