What Happens If a Process Server Can’t Serve Someone?
Process serving is an important but often difficult job.
This is because some people can be hard to locate, and others work hard to avoid being served. They may believe that if they are never served, their legal trouble will eventually go away. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
In reality, there are many alternative methods of informing someone of the legal action being taken against them. The court will exhaust all these options, and if you cannot be reached, the trial will continue without you.
Other Methods of Being Served
If a process server has made several unsuccessful attempts to reach a person, they will file paperwork stating so. From there, a judge will permit alternative serving methods, including:
- Through the mail: Service of process can be delivered via certified mail, as long as the server has proof that you reside at the mailing address.
- Substitute service: In some jurisdictions, the papers can be left with a resident of the address who is over the age of 18. This could be a spouse, roommate, or adult child.
- Posting on your door: If the court authorizes it, the notice can also be posted to your front door. Once again, the court will need proof that you reside at the location.
- Notice in the newspaper: Finally, if all else fails, the service can be posted in the local newspaper. This method is becoming less popular as print media also declines, but it is still a reliable way of spreading information.
The Court Will Continue Without You
Using one or a combination of these methods, the court will trust that you have been informed of the legal action being taken against you. They will continue the process of justice, even if they never hear from you.
This may sound like a relief, but if you are not present for your own trial, you have no opportunity to defend yourself. The opposing party will lay out their grievances and evidence against you, and the court will make a judgment without hearing your side of the story.
Your avoidance of the trial does not reflect well on you, and this could also be considered when deciding the judgment. This means that the results of the trial will often be more severe than if you had a chance to defend yourself.
The Bottom Line
If you are expecting legal action to be taken against you, such as a divorce, eviction, or lawsuit, it is always better to know sooner rather than later. That way you can spend your time effectively by making a plan of defense with your lawyer.
Avoiding or ignoring the process server will only make the situation worse for you.