Many states allow for you to serve the non-custodial parent with the petition for termination of parental rights and the petition for adoption yourself, instead of paying for the service to be done for you. It can cost several hundred dollars to have someone served with court documents, so many families often find themselves wondering if they should pay, or just do it themselves.
The first thing to consider is safety. If you have any reason whatsoever to believe that the non-custodial parent could become enraged, violent, or otherwise dangerous in any way shape or form, then it is best to advise the professionals of the potential danger, and then let them handle it. They are used to dealing with this situation on a daily basis and are better prepared than the average joe.
Are you dealing with an ex that simply refuses to communicate with you at all, making no effort to see the child that they helped create, nor responding to your requests for dialog about the possibilities of a stepparent adoption? If any of this sounds all too familiar to you, then again, it is best to let the professionals do what they get paid to do. Their are many tricks to the trade when it comes to serving court papers to reluctant recipients that will bring about eventual success to even the most elusive
While the initial cost of the service may seem expensive, factor in the fees that you would incur if you were to do it yourself. How much extra gas would you use? Would you need to stop for meals along the way, perhaps even stay overnight? If it is a short trip, and you feel that the exchange will go well, then you can probably serve the noncustodial parent with the forms yourself, however, if the noncustodial parent is not willing to communicate with you, or has no idea that you are considering a stepparent adoption, and this will be the first that he or she will hear of it, perhaps it is best if you were to let a neutral third party be the one to deliver the news.