Does someone need to physically hand you documents in order to serve divorce papers? 5 Answers as of May 23, 2011

Last night my son was home alone and someone knocked at the door. He knows not to open the door to strangers (he's 15) so he spoke to the woman through the door. She said she was there to serve me with divorce papers, but since I wasn't home she just left them on the mat outside the door. I thought that to be served someone had to physically hand you the papers. Does the way she delivered them make me legally obligated to do anything?

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Law Office of Curry & Westgate
Law Office of Curry & Westgate | Patrick Curry
The process server is supposed to attempt to hand you the documents, but the if they simply try and fill out the paperwork then the court will accept their declaration of service.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/23/2011
Law Office of John C. Volz
Law Office of John C. Volz | John C. Volz
Yes, they need to leave the paperwork with an adult over the age of 18. If you do not respond, however you could be defaulted, so you would need to file a declaration that you were not served properly.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/23/2011
Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
If someone is making personal service, the server must hand the documents to the person served. Since your son is under 18 years old, substitute service (service on somebody at your home over the age of 18 AND mailing a copy of the same documents to you at your home) cannot be used. Neither of those methods were used to serve you, and even had the server handed the documents to your underage child, that service would not have been proper service. However, you need to be cautious and diligent, because the server may misrepresent who she served and how she served the papers in her Proof of Service, and your spouse could seek to take your default and proceed against you. I would recommend that you set an appointment with an experienced Family Law Attorney, and bring the papers that were left at your door (keeping a copy for yourself), to determine what your options and risks are. The cost of attacking improper service may not justify the risks you would take by ignoring the papers that were left at your door.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/19/2011
Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law
Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law | Diana K. Zilko
You need to be personally served. After a few attempts, they can give the documents to an adult who is at your residence. However, leaving them on the doorstep is not proper.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/19/2011
Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
Physically being handed the documents is not required to be served, however substitute service must be on a person of suitable age and discretion (a teenager is fine) and then must be mailed to the person to be served. I would say that you probably have been properly served. I would strongly suggest you file a response rather than allow the matter to proceed to a default and then fight service at that time. If you are in my area and need an attorney, please contact me for a free consultation.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/19/2011
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