Substitute Service of Process

We all know that process of service is best made in person and verified with an affidavit from the process server. However, there are several different ways to serve a person with documents. In difficult matters, what is referred to as “substituted service” will be considered legally sufficient.

Substituted service is any type of service on an individual or business that is indirect. In other words, it is not made in person. Papers can be handed to a person, such as a friend or family member, in place of the one who is actually being served. This must be done with court approval, however.

Since substitute service is less desirable to courts than direct service, the process server must effectively prove that the party was completely unreachable and that all other efforts to serve him or her have failed. Each attempt to reach the person must be recorded and should also be shared with the person initiating the suit. Once the court establishes that substitute service is necessary, it will also determine the best route to take.

Other methods of substituted service include leaving papers at a defendant’s workplace or sending them through the mail. When an individual is unlikely to be found, legal notices are published in the newspaper that covers the area where he or she was last known to reside.

Not all of these methods are considered legal and binding in all jurisdictions. Which substitute service types are permitted all comes down to the jurisdiction of the court and whether the case is in the state or federal court. Strict requirements provided by the proper governing entity must be followed to the letter or the service will fail if it is contested in court.

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