The purpose of service of process is to provide effective notice that the defendant is being called to an Arizona court by the plaintiff to account for the matters alleged in the lawsuit. Such notice is required by the due process clause of both the United States Constitution and the Arizona Constitution. When service of process on a defendant does not comply with prescribed procedural requirements, the court does not obtain jurisdiction.
Any defect in the service of process is waived, however, if the defendant voluntarily appears in and defends the lawsuit against him. The filing of a responsive pleading that does not contest the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the defendant, for example, will operate as a waiver of the defense and submission to the jurisdiction of the court. On the other hand, a party’s participation in proceedings to the unsuccessful pursuit of a motion to dismiss for insufficient service, under circumstances when the party does not not intend to admit to the court’s jurisdiction (“special or limited appearance”) does not constitute a voluntary appearance.
An Arizona court has statutory jurisdiction to enter a decree of dissolution of marriage, for instance, when one of the parties was domiciled in Arizona for 90 days before the filing of the petition for dissolution. An Arizona court also has jurisdiction in a child-support action over a father who does not live in Arizona but was personally served while in the state on vacation and visiting the child, according to one Arizona appellate decision.