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Can someone sub-serve a summons in California?

Torrance, CA |
Filed under: Summons and complaint

I was told that if I am not home and someone tries to serve me via mail a summons and then serves the summons to my son this is an acceptable for of service. This is a liited civil action.

Attorney Answers 3


Once they try to serve you on 3 different days, they can then leave the papers with someone over 18 at the residence, followed by 1st class mailing of the summons and complaint. Service is deemed complete 10 days after the mailing. you mthen have 30 days from completion of service to file an answer. I have never researched what happens if papers mailed first and then left with someone later at the residence. I wouldnt risk problems with having a default over a possible defect like that in service. If you have the papers, you should get legal advice now on the merits of the action.

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Michael John Tonsing

Michael John Tonsing


You could go to the clerk's office at the courthouse and see if later documents have been filed that you don't know about. You are entitled to inspect the file. But, I agree that you should see an attorney now rather than risking a default.


Usually sub-service is supported by a declaration that the person made 3 attempts to serve you in person, and then left the summons with someone at your house and followed up by mail.

David Mallen

David A. Mallen offers answers on Avvo for general information only. This offer of free, general answers is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. If you need specific advice regarding your legal question, you should consult an attorney confidentially. Many experienced California labor and employment attorneys, including David A. Mallen offer no-risk legal consultations to employers and employees at no charge. David A. Mallen is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, as well as the California Labor Commissioner and the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Failure to take legal action within the time periods prescribed by law could result in the loss of important legal rights and remedies.

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The code calls for mailing AFTER the papers are dropped off. As Mr. Kopelson points out, if the papers were mailed first, it raises an interesting legal issue. I also agree with him that the best route (and cheapest/most efficient in the long run) is likely to face the merits of the lawsuit and have the allegations against you evaluated by an attorney.

The information/answer is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your individual situation. This attorney is only licensed to practice law in California. Your question and this answer do not create an attorney-client relationship. Do not send/post any confidential information.

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