Serving someone court papers, or Service of Process, is used to notify a defendant of a pending lawsuit or court case against them. Whether its divorce papers, a child support notice, or any legal proceedings, the person has a constitutional right to know about these proceedings and defend themselves.
But what happens when you have asked the sheriff to serve papers, and have even hired a professional process server; but the defendant cannot be found and cannot be served papers?
An available option is Service by Publication.
When can Service by Publication be Used?
Once you have sworn in front of a judge that despite your best efforts, the defendant cannot be found, and cannot be served, the judge may issue an order allowing for Service by Publication. If the judge sees that you have exhausted all other options to serve the defendant, they will accept the legal notice to be published in the newspaper (Service by Publication) as the defendant being served.
Notice can be published in the local newspaper informing the defendant of the pending court case against them. This ‘constructive notice’ assumes that the defendant receives the notice, even when it was not delivered in person. You do not have to prove that the defendant saw the orders in the paper, but merely that the notice was published in the newspaper for the predetermined number of weeks.
Once ordered by the judge, the Service by Publication is legally sufficient to fulfill the notice requirements.
But There are Rules to Service by Publication.
Serving notice by newspaper seems much easier than trying to find the defendant, but there are rules in place to keep it from being used frivolously.
- You must be able to prove that you have exhausted all venues of trying to find and serve the defendant
- It is common to be required to begin Service by Publication within 20 days after the judge signed the order
- The order may state the duration of Service by Publication. Such as the notice must run every week for a total of 4 weeks.
Each case is different, so it is wise to read and carefully follow the judge’s orders.
Hiring a Process Server
If the defendant is difficult to locate, hiring a qualified process server is your first step. At One Source Process, we have professional servers in all 50 states and have worked everything from a simple service to hard to find cases, and eventually to submitting the proper documentation to the courts so you may proceed with Service by Publication.
We understand that the legal steps must be followed precisely, and we file the court documents pertaining to process service, allowing your case forward.
If you need papers served, begin here by filling out the Order Form. We will work with you to ensure your case moves along in a timely manner.