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Serving Court Papers Without an Address

Serving court papers to another person is to officially hand over important documents concerning a legal matter.

These documents will contain a summons to court, and should not be ignored.

You may need to serve court papers for example during a divorce or during other family and child proceedings. Our solicitors can assess your situation and help you further. 

Papers must be “served” to any other person who is involved in the matter or who the law requires get the papers.

This lets the people involved with the case know what you are telling the court and what you are asking the court to do.

If papers are not served, the case can’t move forward.

Serving court papers

Who Serves Court Papers?

It’s important that all court orders are served correctly to avoid any delays or problems with the legal process.

If papers aren’t served correctly it could result in the case being postponed, or maybe even completely thrown out of court.

If you involve the courts by serving court papers to someone, you are responsible for notifying them that you have done so.

In some instances you can actually serve papers yourself but you may want to hire a professional to do it on your behalf, especially if you are not on good terms with the person you are serving court papers to.

Hiring the services of a professional will make sure that your papers are served in accordance with any specific orders too.

These professionals – called process servers – have access to track down most individuals in the UK, so could be used when trying to serve someone court papers without you knowing their address.

Process servers might deliver court papers concerning divorce, family and children’s matters such as custody or child maintenance, or tenant or landlord lease break notices.

Our solicitors can help you understand this process and support you with all your legal matters.

What if the Person Doesn’t Have a Permanent Address?

If someone is particularly hard to get hold of then it is possible to get the court to approve what is called subsisted or ‘deemed’ service.

Subsisted service is the approval to serve court papers to a person other than directly to them at their registered address.

This would be granted, for example, if you are going through a divorce and your partner is purposely avoiding their registered residence to avoid being summoned to court.

In some cases the court may attempt service of process via first class post, which they will use to send the paperwork to the last known address of the person being served.

If you are not able to locate the person’s address, you may still be able to have the individual served with the necessary documents.

For example, if you know their employer, you might be able to have the papers served to them at their employer’s address as long as they still work there.

Provide as much information as possible, such as last known address, social media profiles, and details of close friends and relatives.

Trying to serve papers to someone who is avoiding you or who doesn’t have a permanent address can be very frustrating, but don’t worry, your family law solicitor can help you.

Substituted Service Of Process

In certain cases, like service of divorce papers for example, you can run an advertisement in the newspaper where you and your spouse used to live and/or where relatives live.

Ensure to document that you have done this and check if there are rules on how the long the advertisement can run for.

For this to be considered by the court, you need to demonstrate that every attempt possible has been made to serve the legal papers to the person.

Social media can also lead you to discovering the whereabouts of an individual.

Some courts will be willing to accept you serving court papers via social media only if it can be proven that the documents have reached the intended recipient and again that you have made every possible attempt to use traditional methods to serve them papers. 

Gather Information

If you are finding it difficult to locate the person you need to serve papers to, it might be an idea to write down everything you know about them before taking this to a legal professional who will be able to use the information to track the person dow.

You can write down details like:

  • Is the name they go by short for something?
  • What are the different ways they might spell their first and last name?
  • Do they have a middle name?
  • How old are they?
  • When was their birthday?
  • What was the last city they lived in?
  • Do you know where they were born?
  • Do they have any relatives or friends? What were their names?
  • Where do their relatives live?

If you are able to delve deeper into the person’s history and information then do so. You could document details like:

  • A recent location history
  • Contact details such as a phone number or email address
  • Criminal and arrest records
  • Social media profiles
  • Jobs and education
  • Possible relatives and associates

If the person you’re looking for has completely disappeared, it’s a good idea to try contacting people like:

  • Family members
  • Friends
  • Old roommates
  • Ex partners

With some social media “stalking” you might discover that your search subject has been staying with a friend or family member to avoid you serving them papers.

What Can I Do?

Serving court papers to someone who is particularly elusive can seem like an impossible task, but you actually have quite a few options.

If you have exhausted these choices then it might be necessary to obtain legal advice before you proceed any further.

Don’t hesitate to get in contact using our online form, or ring 0844 414 0667 for help, guidance and support.

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