What if a professional process server is can't serve you? We provide an answer to this topic as well as a breakdown.

Justice's gears and legal proceeding are slowly turning. This truism reverberates across our national psyche, causing some dismay and providing opportunities for others. A fair system is one that is ready for abuse.

While criminal, civil, and family law courts all take time, the family law and civil timelines include a notification that a legal action is being taken, rather than a trip to jail by police enforcement. What if a process server is unable to serve you? Things take even longer, but the courts don't keep you waiting indefinitely.

When evaluating this subject, it's critical to understand the obligations and duties of process servers. Keep in mind that the pain of default judgment is the light at the end of the tunnel.

Continue reading to find out what happens if a process server can't serve you.

Purpose of Process Servers

The process serving industry has a lot of similarities to that of private investigators, but they actually differ from by their tasks. The legal reasons for being served papers include your right to confront accusers under the Sixth Amendment. You have the right to know if legal action is being taken against you as a part of legal procedure.

You will require time to prepare a defense or make a statement in response to any allegations.

The idea that you can avoid receiving court papers stems from a misunderstanding of the law's objective.

The notion of most process servers are developed by the courts to ensure that involved parties were given proper service and notice of legal actions and lawsuits. The meeting in person is really a politeness.

When a person cannot be traced, either due to avoidance or error, the court is obligated to proceed on behalf of other parties.

 document delivery

Personal Service Is Preferred But not Needed

The most desired method of process service is "personal" service and to serve papers. This involves a process server physically handing you legal documents. It's crucial to note, however, that service can be completed even if you didn't sign an acknowledgment or accept the legal documents from the process server.

In some cases, the person who answers the door at your home may be the one who receives the service of process. "Substitute service" is the term for this (more on this topic below). Other types of service can also be used.

If a professional process servers fail in serving legal documents or to deliver legal documents physically on multiple occasions, he or she has other options for completing the process service in another way to get the papers served. There are a few options of service used by process servers, they are listed below.

Other Process-Serving Methods

Although you may believe that avoiding a process server is a good strategy to avoid a lawsuit, you will not be able to do so no matter how hard you try. You could lose more money if you don't show up to court than if you accepted service and fought the matter.

Substituted Service of Process

In general, it is a legal requirement that the person being served to receive the papers personally, with the professional process server obtaining positive identification of the person being served before handing over the legal documents in full view of the target.

If the intended recipient cannot be located, most states allow for other methods such as "substituted service," in which the court documents are provided to a roommate or, in some situations, a teenager of legal age. In certain locations, this is deemed legal, but only after all other choices have been exhausted.

Notice In the Newspaper

If the person cannot be traced, it may be permissible to publish a notice in the newspaper in some countries. To be regarded as acceptable, it must be shown that all alternative possibilities have been exhausted and that every effort has been made to personally serve the legal papers.

Without the help of a competent process server, this can be incredibly difficult.


Depending on the jurisdiction, the target may be required to receive the legal notice via letter and a secondary way such as substituted service. Even this can be problematic if the target has a habit of skipping from address to address.

Posting On Your Door As a Service

A motion with legal documents can be filed with the court after many attempts, and the judge will authorize the process server to post on your front door.

Notice-based service

Finally, if all other attempts to contact you have failed, the court may authorize the person who is suing you to serve you by publishing a notice in a local newspaper.

The court can consider you served with simply an advertising if the paper is published in the area where you live and fits certain other criteria.

Although you may believe that avoiding a process server is a good strategy to avoid a lawsuit, you will not be able to do so even if how hard you try. You could lose more money if you don't show up to court than if you accepted service and fought the matter.


Standard Process for a Professional Process Server

You may be able to use a lack of service as a defense in a debt collection lawsuit if you were not personally served with a Summons and Complaint and did not obtain the legal documents through an alternative mode of service from debt collectors. However, it is critical to comprehend the performance benchmark that most process servers are measured against.

In most cases, a process server must demonstrate that they did their due diligence when attempting in serving legal documents on the person.

Professional process servers must certify that they used all available resources to locate a person. If a process server is having trouble performing service of process, a person involved should expect them to return to your home, business, or other location.

If a process server is unable to personally serve a person and not a party with a copy of the Summons and Complaint for whatever reason, the debt collection case will proceed. Other options for service of process can be explored.

What Happens if Court Papers and Legal Documents Cannot Be Served?

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:

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.

Beyond Standard Process Serving - Substitute Service

We've talked about this earlier.

Some states will accept "subsitute service" if all other reasonable options have been exhausted. At the defendant's address, the process server leaves the court paperwork with a relative or roommate. Other jurisdictions, on the other hand, will allow notice to be published.

So, What Happens If a Process Server Can’t Serve You? The most you can do is postpone the procedure for a few weeks or months, according to a detailed guide on how to avoid being served by a process server. Process servers must demonstrate that they made a reasonable effort to serve you in person. Things can escalate once they can establish that they have made good-faith attempts to reach you in person but have been unable to deliver in person. The next step is to convince a judge to allow other ways of service, such as service by Special Court Order, Posting and Mailing, or Publication, to name a few. It's worth noting that pressuring the courts to take more time doesn't exactly put you in the best light when it comes to your actual court appearance. After the judge issues an order, the process server is free to pursue additional options. Once a Special Court Order has been made, they may be allowed to leave the legal papers with any adult in your household, place of employment, or habitual mailing address, even on generally personal only documents. The "No Service Policy" of a spouse, adult child, sibling, or job is no longer a shield. If no one answers the door, the documentation can be sent to a known address via certified mail or overnight delivery. This contains both personal and professional addresses. To deliver actual paper to an evading defendant at a confirmed good address, I prefer posting and First Class Mailing. In most circumstances, a Special Court Order will be required before proceeding down this path. Process servers or the opposing party may contact local and community newspapers to make the pending action public. The act of printing the notification satisfies the criteria of the courts. It makes no difference if you've never heard of or seen the publication before; you'll still be served. This also exposes the civil or family action to the public eye, which you may not want to be exposed to. You still have the ability to respond or answer the case as long as the time limit hasn't expired, but you're unlikely to realize you've been properly served. Please Get in Touch With Us! Process serving necessitates commitment and adherence to the law. We don't enjoy it when a process server fails to serve you, so we do everything we can to deliver you genuine notice in the shortest period of time possible so you can defend yourself in court. To provide our clients with dependable results, we educate and employ the best! Consider using a process server service to get a quick response to your legal processing needs, or give us a call to talk about serving your answer or response to an anticipated legal action.