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What Happens When Someone Can’t Be Found?

It does sometimes happen that people cannot be found to serve them necessary legal papers. The court clerk likely told you that service of process is required before your case can go before the judge. This is entirely true, but what do you do if you just can’t find someone no matter what you try? It depends on the situation and what has been done to try to serve the papers.

It is required by most judges that you show evidence of taking all reasonable measures to find and serve the party. This could mean that the judge will ask for proof of the fact that the individual moved with no forwarding address, couldn’t be found at work, and couldn’t be tracked down through skip tracing or by a private investigator. If all of those measures are taken and the party still can’t be found, the judge may offer a different solution.

Sheriff’s departments will not try to find someone to serve them papers. If they are not available at the address listed on the papers, they just don’t get served. The sheriff returns these papers to the courts as undeliverable. Some judges may deem that this is not enough of a reasonable effort and require you to hire a private detective or process server to make a better attempt.

If the judge agrees that you and your process server have done everything possible to get the papers served, the judge will issue an order for an alternative method of service. The traditional method is to place a classified ad in the local newspaper, called service by publication. However, some judges are now allowing electronic or digital methods of alternative service.

If you are looking to get papers served and the person is hard to find, contact us today for successful service.