The United States Supreme Court in Boddie v. Connecticut held that a state denies due process of law to indigent persons by refusing to permit them to bring divorce actions except on payment of court fees and service-of-process costs. Virginia allows a waiver of court fees by its in forma paupersstatute, Va. Code Ann. § 14.1-183 (Repl. Vol. 1977), but the Commonwealth continues to require indigents to serve by newspaper publication any non-resident defendant who otherwise cannot be served. Newspaper publication costs in the city of Richmond approximate $150. This practice directly confronts the Boddie mandate that ". . . a State may not, consistent with the obligations imposed on it by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, preempt the right to dissolve this legal relationship without affording all citizens access to the means it has prescribed for doing so."' Boddie suggests "reliable alternatives . . . to service of process . . . if the state is unwilling to assume the cost of... service by publication which is the method least calculated to bring to a potential defendant's attention the pendency of judicial proceedings... [S]ervice at defendant's last known address by mail and posted notice is equally effective as publication in a newspaper."
Jackson M. Bruce,
Does Virginia Deny Indigents the Right to Divorce?,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol12/iss4/6