If an adult answered the door they can "sub-serve" the adult and mail you the papers within 5 days. If you avoid them and no one ever answers your door the plaintiff can get an order to "publish" against you in a newspaper of general circulation. You will 99% never know about it.
Fooling around with service of a lawsuit and then paying the price is a typical error of a pro per.
If you have actual knowledge or a copy of the lawsuit, answer, and don't rely on what you think is a technicality.
The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advise" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.
Within the next 60 days, the process server will make several attempts to personally serve you. The process server can effectuate substitute service of process by serving any adult at your usual place of abode (residence) or usual place of business, and then mailing a copy to you.
California Code of Civil Procedure section 415.20(2) provides:
"If a copy of the summons and of the complaint cannot with reasonable diligence be personally delivered to the person to be served as specified in Section 416.60, 416.70, 416.80, or 416.90, a summons may be served by leaving a copy of the summons and of the complaint at such person's dwelling house, usual place of abode, usual place of business, or usual mailing address other than a United States Postal Service post office box, in the presence of a competent member of the household or a person apparently in charge of his or her office, place of business, or usual mailing address other than a United States Postal Service post office box, at least 18 years of age, who shall be informed of the contents thereof, and by thereafter mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint (by first-class mail, postage prepaid) to the person to be served at the place where a copy of the summons and of the complaint were left. Service of a summons in this manner is deemed complete on the 10th day after the mailing."
Failing sub-service, the plaintiff can request the court for an order that you be served by publication. Once service by publication is effectuated, the plaintiff can seek a default judgment against you.
The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author (who is only admitted to practice law in the State of California). For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.
Judges do not like litigants who evade service of process. What will happen is that the process server will return 3 times. If anyone is at home, he will hand the papers to that person and then mail a copy, by first class (not certified) mail. Perhaps, the process server will swear that he served you, sign a proof of service, and get paid. If that happens, the creditor will apply for entry of a default judgment.
If you know the case number, you can find out what is filed with the court. I would suggest that you consult an attorney who can advise you, negotiate on your behalf, and represent you in court.
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