Getting served means that a person must be given notice for any legal action they have a connection with. Every state has varying requirements regarding the proper way to serve papers, but the most common way to do so is through personal service. This means handing the documents directly to the party involved.
But what happens if the person cannot be found at their primary residence? Is it legal to serve papers to them when they are not at home?
What Process Servers Can Do
Legal documents must be served to the correct party at their principal domicile or principal residential address. But sometimes, it can be difficult to locate a person, no matter how much research process servers do to find them.
If a process server cannot find someone, they have several options to deliver the legal documents. Here are legal and acceptable means they can do so:
Send a Letter
Process servers can send a letter to the last known address of the relevant party. The letter should have a “Return Service Request” so the recipient can respond.
They can also ask the postal office if the recipient has a forwarding address.
Use Social Media
Process servers can also go online and look for social media accounts connected to the person they are looking for. Contact information publicly available on social media can be used to find someone and serve papers to them.
Reach Out to Associates
If the person cannot be found in their principal residence, the process server can try to contact them through their employer, friends, or relatives. These associates can be asked for information on the person’s whereabouts.
Property records in the county tax assessor’s office or county recorder’s office can be used to locate a person so they can be served.
Where Can a Process Server Deliver Documents?
If serving the documents requires personal service, the process server must hand the documents to the party involved.
But what if the person has no listed address?
Place of Employment
Legal documents can be served at a person’s place of work. However, if the process server is not allowed to enter the premises, they must wait until the person leaves the building to deliver the papers.
Process servers can also go to a public place near the person’s workplace or last known address. Parks, sidewalks, the street in front of the residence—these are all considered public places.
If the person is staying at a relative’s or friend’s house, the process server can serve them papers there. They can knock on the door and look for the person if their search leads to that address.
If the relative or friend is of suitable age and reasonable mind (18 years old and older), the process server can hand the papers to them. But if the relative or friend does not disclose that the person is staying at that address, the process server can go to a public place nearby and wait for them.
A Process Server Can Serve Papers at a Relative or Friend’s Home
If a person is staying in a location other than their principal domicile, a process server has legal means to serve them papers as long as they do not trespass or break and enter.
Process servers are only fulfilling their role in the legal system. Giving notice to parties called to court is one way to ensure that justice is served.
The foregoing podcast has simply been presented for informational purposes only. He or those at Lafayette Process Servers LLC, are not attorneys. Process serving laws and rules of civil procedure are different from state to state. If you seek further information about this topic, please make sure to contact an attorney in your local area
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