One of the key issues on appeal, in the case of Koons v. Crane, was whether the Husband, Mr. Koons, was properly served with an Order to Show Cause for his alleged failure to abide by certain obligations in the parties’ divorce decree. In July 2017, Mr. Koons had notified his ex-Wife, Ms. Crane, by email of a new PO Box address in Saudi Arabia. He never filed a formal update of his address with the Fairfax County, Virginia Circuit Court, as required in the divorce decree. Ms. Crane had a private courier attempt to deliver the court papers to the PO Box, but the papers were returned. She represented that the PO Box was inaccessible. It was located on a secure compound in Saudi Arabia, belonging to Mr. Koons’ employer. The Houston location of the employer would not provide a residential address for Mr. Koons or accept service. Ms. Crane then had a private process server deliver process to Mr. Koons’ last known address in Washington State, and she filed an affidavit confirming service on Mr. Koons’ “mother-in-law/coresident.”
The court accepted the substituted service and ultimately found Mr. Koons in contempt. He filed a special appearance to quash service, arguing it was not his usual place of abode (Va. Code 8.01-296(2)(a)). He submitted a de bene esse deposition transcript from his father-in-law that claimed Mr. Koons had “moved out of our house when he got the job in Saudi” and that he would remain in Saudi “only as long as he could handle it.” There was no other evidence that he had abandoned the Washington residence as his usual place of abode. A temporary absence from a usual place of abode does not invalidate effective service. In that Mr. Koons did not provide any new residential address, had not updated the court as required with a new address, had returned to the Washington residence on multiple occasions, and did not produce any evidence of a new address like a drivers’ license or bank account statement, the trial judge was correct in finding that Mr. Koons’ presence in Saudi Arabia was only temporary and the Washington address remained his usual place of abode. Substituted service under the Virginia Code is sufficient to confer personal jurisdiction for a contempt proceeding.