How to Serve Someone Who is Avoiding Service
While many process recipients are easy to locate and serve, there are always some who avoid being served. People avoid process servers for various reasons, including not wanting to accept the reason they are being taken to court, not having money for an attorney, or simply not wanting to take the time to handle the issue.
So what should a process server do when trying to serve someone who doesn’t want to be found? Here are our top tips for locating evasive process recipients:
Do Your Research
If your client doesn’t give you enough information to locate the intended process recipient, or target, it’s time to put your research cap on. The easiest way to do research these days is online. Many states, counties, and cities publish public records online in easily searchable formats. Dig through online tax bills, property records, business registrations, news articles, social media sites, and more to find out as much as possible about the person you are trying to find. Save all relevant information in a dedicated place, such as a binder, notebook, or online document. Once you’re finished with your research, go back and review all the information you’ve gathered to get some good ideas on where to look for the target.
If you aren’t able to find much information online, or the area where you are searching doesn’t publish public records online, it’s time to pick up the phone and make some calls. Call the local tax office, register of deeds, and even the police station to find out as much as you can about your target. Some places may want you to come in person to request information.
Other people you may want to call or any known associates you identified during online research. Online directory sites often include a list of people that seem to be associated with the person in question. These lists aren’t always accurate, but they can provide a good jumping-off point for some phone calls. If you do make contact with someone who knows the target, get as much information as they are willing to share. Sometimes, just letting a target’s friends and family know that you’re looking for them is enough to get the target to reach out to you.
Hit the Streets
Once you’re armed with possible locations from your online research, in-person visits, and phone calls, it’s time to put some feet on the pavement. Create a route of addresses where you believe the target may be and visit each one. With any luck, you’ll come across your target at one of the locations.
Contact Their Employer
We always recommend trying to find the process recipient somewhere other than their workplace first, because notifying someone’s employer about their legal issues can have a very detrimental effect on their livelihood. However, if you have tried to locate the person outside of work, and they continue to avoid you, you may serve them through their employer. To do so, you must contact the employer upfront and notify them of your need to serve their employee. Schedule a time to meet with the process recipient’s supervisor or manager and provide them with the process. Once you hand the process to the supervisor, the recipient is considered served by state law and the case can proceed.
If you cannot locate the process recipient, and they are not employed to your knowledge, you may need to request an alternative service. Alternative service is simply when a judge approves the process server to serve the named recipient by giving the process to another designated individual who knows the recipient or publishing the contents of the process in a public place. Local newspapers are traditionally where the process is published, but in modern times email, online forums, social media messages, and other websites are not always off-limits. Once a judge approves the alternative service and the process server has met the conditions, the process recipient is considered served, and the case can proceed.
The Most Diligent Process Servers on the Treasure Coast
Here at Accurate Serve® in Port St. Lucie, we do have to deal with evasive process recipients from time to time. Luckily, we have an awesome team of servers that are experienced in locating people who do not want to be found. If you want to boost your process serving career and join the best servers in Florida’s 19th Judicial Circuit, which includes St. Lucie, Martin, Okeechobee, and Indian River counties, reach out to us online.