• AIM

Certified Mail Service Valid Even Though Signature is Illegible

Updated: Apr 19


In Ex parte Rich, Ms. 2210228 (March 4, 2022), the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals recently examined whether a father's delivery of the registration of a foreign child custody determination by certified mail was void for lack of service where the certified mail return receipt contained an eligible signature and the father did not prove that he had properly served the registration petition, but where the mother had actual notice of the registration and the hearing set by the court.


The Court of Civil Appeals reviewed the procedure for a complaining party to send process to a defendant through certified mail pursuant to Alabama Rule of Civil Procedure 4. Given the lack of Alabama cases in which there was evidence proving that the addressee actually received the summons and complaint and time to avoid a default such that an agent's authority for receiving certified mail on behalf of the addressee shall be conclusively established, the court looked to federal District Court opinions and determined that the mother had actually received the notice of filing of the registration petition and time to avoid a default.


"Accordingly, the illegible signature on the return receipt for the certified mail was conclusively deemed to be that of someone 'specifically authorized by the [mother] to receive the [mother's] mail and to deliver that mail to the mother.'"


The court, therefore, concluded that the trial court was correct in determining that the mother had been properly served with a notice of the registration petition and that the mother had not proven a clear legal right to have service quashed.



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