What Happens If a Process Server Cannot Locate a Target?

Originally posted on 12/11/2015

A person in a suit holds up a magnifying glass over an avatar of a person. Tracking down a target to deliver legal documents can be challenging sometimes.Process service is a legal procedure where one party of a lawsuit gives notice of legal action to the other, thereby allowing them the necessary time to respond. It’s an important step, and a lawsuit cannot continue if the process serving procedure hasn’t been thoroughly taken care of. Of course, no one likes to be sued, and some unscrupulous individuals will try to duck the consequences of their actions and avoid people serving court documents. If this happens, there are a few options available.

Substituted Service

Generally speaking, it’s a legal requirement that the person being served receives the papers personally, with the server getting positive identification of the one being served and then giving the papers in full view of the target. If the target cannot be found, some jurisdictions allow for what’s called “substituted service,” whereby the court papers are given to a roommate or, in some cases, a teenager of appropriate age. This is considered legal in some places, though only acceptable once all other options have been exhausted.

Newspaper Notice

In some jurisdictions, if the person cannot be found it is admissible to place a notice in the newspaper. For this to be considered acceptable, it must be demonstrated that all other options have been used, and that every attempt has been made to serve the legal papers personally. This can be extremely hard to do without a professional process service on your side.


Depending on the jurisdiction, it may be required that the target receives the legal notice in the mail as well as a secondary method like substituted service. If the target has a history of skipping from address to address, even this can prove difficult.

Ensure Your Legal Documents Get Where They Need to Go with Same Day Process Service

At Same Day Process Service, we specialize in finding people who don’t want to be found. With our team of dedicated tracking experts, we will hunt down any target no matter where they try to hide, and we specialize in the “impossible” targets. Don’t delay: contact us today, and we’ll find who you’re looking for!

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