Alternative Service

When Personal Service is Unachievable

Important Steps to Follow:

1-When Alternative/Substitute service has been approved a process server must read the Alternative Service instructions carefully and carry out the appropriate service method.

2- Complete the Posting of the documents or Substitute Service in accordance with the instructions provided.

3- After posting the documents, you may be required, depending on the state, to send a second copy of the documents to the same address via mail.

Under certain circumstances, alternative service methods may be approved instead of personal service. This alternative service opens the door to performing substitute service or posting of the documents.

Requirements Before an Alternative Service

For Alternative Service to be possible, diligent attempts must have been completed, and the servee's residency must be confirmed.

Diligence Requirements: For the alternative service order to be approved, ABC Legal wants to see that you've made diligent attempts to perform personal service. In general, that means:

  • Minimum of attempts at the address based on state court
  • One attempt before 11 am
  • One attempt after 6 pm
  • One attempt on a weekend
  • Varying attempts on different days of the week
  • Any other specifications required by the local Court

Residency Confirmation: Some types of residency confirmation can be assisted by ABC Legal or our clients, but we always need process servers to try and achieve the following forms of confirmation:

  • A resident, neighbor, or leasing office that confirms the defendant resides at the address
  • Mail or packages with the defendant's name that can be seen at the doorstep of the address (never look in the mailbox)
  • A picture of a license plate on a vehicle present that is registered to the defendant at the address

Just as you would report that no one is home at the address for service, include in your attempts if you checked with neighbors and no one was home, or if there is no leasing office. 

Waiting for the Order for Alternate Service

Hang onto the documents: You'll likely need these documents later, so we'll leave them on your list of orders while we file for Alternative Service with the court.

Once the Alternative Service is Approved

When an Order Granting Alternative Service is approved, we will send it to you along with the documents for service (make sure to check towards the end of the documents).

This Order will state the method by which you can serve the documents.

The Order must be served along with the rest of the documents.

Remember to print a second (and sometimes third) copy of the documents when you receive an Order for Alternate Service. You will always be paid for the printing of these extra copies, even if you personally serve the job.

Service Method: Once you receive the Order Granting Alternative Service, ensure that you read it. It will list whether substitute serviceposted service, or both is allowed.

Personal Service Still Allowed: Personal service is always allowed when you have an alternative service order in hand. Make it a habit to knock the door one last time before posting!

Minimum Age: When performing Substitute Service, the co-resident must be at least 16 years of age or older. If a co-resident aged 16 accepts the documents do not use the selection "15-17", list their exact age and how it was confirmed in your service notes. 

Mailed Copy of Documents

Once the documents have been substitute served or posted, you will need to mail a second copy of the documents to the same address pursuant to the Judge's signed order.

The exact procedure will differ per job so it is crucial that you read the Order for Alternative Service every time you receive one. You may be asked to mail a copy of the Service Documents to the written address by First Class Mail, by Certified Mail, or even both.

If you find yourself mailing by a specific type often, we recommend buying envelopes for first class mail and certified mail return receipts in bulk for when you mail the second copy, as they are notably cheaper this way, and we will still pay you at the same rate for sending them.

Unique Pay Scale

Jobs served via an Order for Alternative Service are paid differently from typical jobs. Due to the potentially lengthy process of filing a motion for alternative service (usually around 2-4 weeks from submission to approval), ABC will pay you half of your service fee once diligence is complete and you return the signed motion. Then, upon completion of the service - whether it is personal, substitute, or posted - you will be paid the second half. For example:

Process Server Jan Irsman is under contract to be paid $22 per order. Ms. Irsman receives an order, completes five attempts at the service address (including one before 11 AM, one after 6 PM, and one on Saturday), and speaks to the father of the defendant, Tom Foolery. Tom confirms that his son, Reggie Foolery, does reside at the address but is not available to accept the papers. Jan submits this information through ABC Mobile. A motion for alternative service is generated and sent to her. Jan signs the motion and sends it back to ABC and is paid $11 for her efforts. Later, the same order for Reggie Foolery returns to Jan Irsman's list - this time, with an Order for Alternative Service signed by Judge Cal Colfax. Jan returns to the service address and posts the documents. When she submits the service through ABC Mobile, Jan Irsman is paid another $11 for successfully completing the order.

If the order was assigned to another process server - Gilbert Horatio - after Jan Irsman completed diligence, Gilbert would be paid a flat fee of $10 for posting the documents. And, because the order was successfully resolved, Jan is paid the other half of her wage, $11.