In California, a person is served when they officially receive the papers.
But what happens if you are unable to serve the documents because the other party is avoiding you or avoiding being served?
It’s highly recommended that you hire a process server, this is a professional who is qualified and experienced with the legal procedures for serving court documents. Read more below to learn more about a server of the process.
If a copy of the legal papers can’t be delivered to the named defendant,
a summons may be served by leaving a copy with a competent person in the household, place of work, or business – even if they are not a party to the action.
Sometimes, a defendant will try to evade service of process. The purpose of service of process is to notify the defendant of the lawsuit. A defendant may not legally evade the process. Doing so will not stop the lawsuit from progressing. In that case, the plaintiff’s process server may leave the documents in a place where the defendant is likely to obtain them easily.
If a person is not at home, or evades service, the process server may leave a copy of the papers at the person’s home with someone else living there who is at least 15 years old. The age requirement is in place to ensure that the person accepting the papers on behalf of the person to be served will ensure that the papers get to the person who is to be served. A process server must explain what the documents are when leaving them with a person other than the defendant.
A process server may not leave the papers on the front porch or slip them into a mail slot at the residence. A process server may not serve a defendant with papers on a Sunday. Doing so will invalidate the service of process.
What Happens If the Defendant Cannot be Found?
Most states require the defendant to receive court documents in person and provide proof so that there is no doubt about whether or not the defendant was properly served. An unscrupulous person who does not want to face their responsibilities and legal services as stated by the laws, on the other hand, may go into hiding to evade skip tracing and the process service. There are a few choices of process service of a process server that cannot be able to serve the legal documents:
Service by publication is allowed in cases where the defendant cannot be located. A plaintiff seeking to serve a defendant in this manner must make good faith attempts to locate and serve the defendant before a court will allow a process server to serve a defendant in this manner.
Service by process is serving a defendant by publishing a notice in a publication such as a newspaper in a location where the defendant is likely to see it. It could be the newspaper located in the town where the defendant lives. Only certain types of defendants may be served this way. Again, the rules for service of process by publication are strictly construed by courts. Bring any questions you may have regarding personal service to an attorney whom you trust.
Process Servers’ Due Diligence
The process server must first demonstrate that they attempted to serve the documents in person and failed. They must show that they have exhausted all other options for locating the defendant and that any other means of notification should only be used as a last resort. Professional process servers are essential to have on hand because they will know how to show the court that they tried their hardest to accomplish their duty.