Learn the acceptable ways to serve legal documents to someone you can’t find in order to proceed with a court case.
You’re required to serve papers to anyone that you're pursuing legal action against. If you’re trying to determine how to serve papers to someone you can't find, use these tips to locate the defendant and satisfy the court’s legal requirements.
You may be able to locate the defendant with a background check. If you can’t locate an address with a background check try searching property records.
Locating an Address
Once you find the defendant’s address you can use certified mail to serve the papers. Require the defendant to sign for the mail in order to verify to they were served.
Search for the defendant on social media. Check sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for their home address or workplace. If you can locate their home or work address, you can have them served at either location.
Check Social Media
If the defendant’s address isn’t available on their social media accounts, you may be able to use photos to locate them. Look for photos of their home or yard. You can use the GPS location of the photographs to find their home.
Use GPS Data
Delivery services can serve a defendant on your behalf. Some services will also locate the individual’s address.
Hire a Delivery Service
They may use public records, social media, DMV records or other tools to find the defendant. Once they do, they will serve them. You can also opt to pay for the local sheriff to deliver papers to the defendant.
If you can’t locate the defendant, you may be able to serve them with a public notice. Public notices are published in approved newspapers and publications within your region.
Issue Public Notice
You may want to consult an attorney who can advise you of the appropriate language to use in your notice and explain the process for pursuing a case against a hidden defendant.
Serving papers can be tricky, but with online resources or by using a delivery service, you may be able to locate the defendant and have them served.
There are also options for serving a defendant you can't locate. Follow your state's guidelines for serving defendants to ensure you satisfy the court's requirements and can proceed with your court case.