On a good day, in a normal situation, in a hassle-free world (and depending on the jurisdiction of course), your spouse can be served by just about anybody that isn’t directly party to the action. This may or may not have a cost attached to it, and works for the majority of people engaged in family law matters.
Then there is another layer of service that exists, because the courts realize that not every day is a good day, not every situation is normal, and the unexpected is just part of life. In these situations, some courts will allow you to pay a sheriff, or you can privately hire a process server to go to a specified address and serve the documents. This will work only if the person that you want to serve is: (A) present at that time; (B) willing to answer the door; (C) willing to accept the documents from them without incident; and (D) not looking for ways to contest the procedure and ultimately negate the process, thus forcing you to spend additional money to repeat the process.
But what happens when your process server has gone to the door 17 times unsuccessfully? Even though they’ve told the whole neighbourhood that they are looking for Mr. Smith because they have papers from court for him, they can’t catch him. Or, the sheriff has cost you a bundle for trips to your spouse’s current residence because he or she will only respond “I’m not home – go away” through the door. What do you do then? Consider hiring a private investigator.
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I understand that for some people, the above scenarios may seem ridiculous, but the truth is they are far more common than one might think. Process servers tend to be more affordable, but they aren’t always successful on the first try. I have heard of some process serving companies literally attending the same address as many as 32 consecutive times. As you can imagine, the spouse quickly grows tired of the process server, and often, it becomes a bit of a game to them. Spoiler alert – you always lose.
In some cases, experienced family lawyers will foresee this headache waiting up ahead, and they avoid the mess by coming to us directly before exercising any other options. Investigators cost more, but we have a much higher success rate in the long run, which can actually save you a lot of money. It’s also more effective when the spouse doesn’t know you are trying to serve them; when we are asked to step in after other options have been explored, the process tends to become much more difficult and expensive.
So what exactly do we do differently? Quite a bit. For one thing, we have access to numerous databases, information chains and networks of resources, and we have the legal right to perform an investigation to locate your target. We don’t place the responsibility on you to tell us where your target should be, we figure out where your target actually is and we go there. Often, we show up when they least expect it and have no other option but to accept service peacefully. Private investigators have served people in parks, at gas stations, in restaurants, at work, in shopping malls, at airports, at their homes, at properties that they thought nobody else knew about, in other provinces and even in other countries. People often think that they can evade service by leaving the country, but experienced international investigation firms have access to the very best Hague Law lawyers, and as such, can often complete service upon your party no matter where on earth they are. Of course, not every document service requires a full investigation, but if it is required, take comfort in knowing that it has been done successfully on numerous occasions.
In conclusion, if you experience significant difficulty serving your partner, consider involving a private investigator in your matter sooner rather than later to save yourself time and money in the long run.