In the case of Glory and Sunita Jayagaran, the Washington Court of Appeals refused to recognize an Indian divorce decree because the Husband did not properly serve his Wife, thereby denying her due process. The couple lived approximately 18 years, having 3 children, in Washington State. In March 2015, the couple returned to India for Husband’s job. Shortly thereafter, the Wife brought the children back to the United States, allegedly escaping a bad marriage. The Husband initiated a divorce proceeding in India, and attempted service several times on the Wife’s parents’ house in India, with each attempt at service being rejected because she was not residing there (“return to sender” and her mother telling the person serving process that she had returned to the United States a year earlier). Husband sought alternative service from the Indian court, and mailed the new “Form 11” to the Wife’s friend’s house and a Microsoft Campus Building (presumably where he thought she worked). In February 2017, the Husband obtained a default divorce decree from the Indian court. He emailed his Wife at her personal e-mail address, alerting her of the divorce decree. She claims she never got the email. In July 2018, the Wife filed for divorce in King County Superior Court, and the Husband sought to dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction on the basis that their marriage was already dissolved. The trial court concluded it had jurisdiction over the divorce, and it would not recognize the Indian divorce decree due to lack of due process.
Upon review, it appears that the Husband may have attempted service using the wrong service rule in the Washington Rules of Procedure (using the rule for service of subsequent pleadings instead of the rule for service of the initial summons and Complaint). The proper Rule permits service by personally delivering a copy of the process to the person’s usual place of abode and leaving it with a person of suitable age, or leaving a copy at their usual mailing address and mailing it. The usual mailing address does not include the person’s place of employment. The rule does not provide for service of process by e-mail.
The Court of Appeals affirmed. Wife may proceed with her divorce suit in Washington State.