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Understanding the Concept of Substituted Service

  • August 24, 2011
  • by ServeNow Staff

Substituted Service

Substituted Service

Service of process is the deliverance of legal documents that officially request someone’s presence in court. There are several ways to serve someone with these documents, including substituted service.

Substituted service is when the process server is able to serve you indirectly by giving the documents to another court-approved friend or family member, publicly publishing the process, sending it via snail mail, or dropping it off at your workplace. The number of the above methods that are allowed as well as how they are overseen varies according to the level and jurisdiction of federal, state, and local court systems. Whatever the governing entity is, this process is conducted with strict requirements to ensure that there is no possible way that the service fails. The following requirements highlight a number of these standards.

First of all, since this service method is less desirable than direct service, many courts require that the process server provides evidence that the party is unreachable and that an effort to contact the individual directly has failed. Once it has been established that substituted service is necessary, the above mentioned options that the court in question supports will be considered per the defendant's circumstances.

Usually, if you can't be reached, the next option is to serve the documents to a court-approved person at your place of residence. The person’s candidacy is determined by the court’s discretion; he or she usually must be an adult. This option is favored because the documents are delivered to your place of residence and the third person is legally bound to serve you.

Some courts allow process servers to drop documents off at your workplace, which is almost as reliable as your residence. In this instance, the documents are still delivered to a human being, such as management or a co-worker.

Finally, if you don’t have a steady or reachable place of employment and nobody can receive the process at your home, it may in some cases be mailed to you using certified mail. Many courts will mail the process in addition to another service of process method.

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