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Process server served papers to 15 year old son, is this legal service?

Baltimore, MD |

A process server came to the door while we were not home and asked my son a bunch of questions (such as who he was, who lived there, how old he was, etc.) which he (disappointingly) answered. The process server said something to the affect of, "Oh, you're old enough." ... and handed him the papers which were for my husband.

Is this proper service? I have a feeling the PS was desperate as I noticed the papers say that they had to be served by today (talk about last minute). There were not any other papers other than the court documents, like the process service info, etc. Is the process server likely to state he served them properly?

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Attorney answers 5


Service on a fifteen year old is considered service on a person of suitable age and discretion in NY, which would be valid. I don't know the law in Md, but it seems to me that a fifteen year old knows that the papers are important and have to be given to an adult.

If you'd like to discuss, please feel free to call. Jeff Gold Gold, Benes, LLP 1854 Bellmore Ave Bellmore, NY 11710 Telephone -516.512.6333 Email -



True (that a 15 y/o should know that the papers are important), however, that doesn't necessarily make it legal, or consider proper service, correct?

Jeffrey Bruce Gold

Jeffrey Bruce Gold


I can only talk about NY. Service on a person of suitable age and discretion is valid here in NY.


Maryland Rule 2-121(a) (2) states: "Generally. Service of process may be made within this State or, when authorized by the law of this State, outside this State"..."(2)if the person to be served is an individual, by leaving a copy of the summons, complaint, and all other papers filed with it at the individual's dwelling house or usual place of abode with a resident of suitable age and discretion...." Would a judge believe that a fifteen year old son would give the legal papers to his father. Probably. Many defendants believe that by hiding out and evading service of process, this will somehow defeat the lawsuit. Not true. There is a process for service of process by publication or other means when it becomes clear that the defendant is evading service of process. Of much greater importance is the lawsuit itself and how to deal with the merits of the case. If your husband wants to fight the lawsuit, then he should consult with an attorney and deal with it straight up. But trying to defeat a lawsuit by evading service of process is simply delaying the inevitable. At some point the plaintiff will satisfy the court that they have done everything asked by the court, and then the court will order that service of process has been accomplished, and the lawsuit will move forward, with or without the defendent. If the defendant never shows up to fight the case, then the judge can grant a judgment of default, and the defendant never has a voice in the case and never gets to reduce the damages or defeat the case in chief. Far better to fight the case. If your husband would like to talk further with me about his case, he can reach me at (410) 381-1656. David Mahood, Esq.

This answer is NOT legal advice and is GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY and does NOT establish an Attorney/Client Relationship because you have not retained me and because you have not provided me with a COMPLETE set of all the FACTS in your legal situation. Therefore my answer cannot address your specific legal situation and you should not rely upon my answer in your legal matter. This answer is merely provided to assist you in beginning your own research or in finding an attorney to represent you. I am an attorney licensed in Maryland and California. A Consultation, Retainer and a fully signed and dated Legal Services Agreement (a contract) will be required if you would like to obtain my representation. Office: (410) 381-1656. David Mahood, Esq.


The important thing is that your husband (the named defendant) not ignore the papers. If your lawyer believes that service is improper, then the issue must be raised my motion to the court. The failure to file any response may result in a default judgment against your husband. He will have less to argue about if the case proceeds to a default.


Most likely, yes. It would be a big mistake to assume that service was improper and ignore it. You should progress as though service was proper.


Probably. Under the controlling Maryland Rules of Practice and Procedure, service of process may be effected by leaving a copy of the summons, complaint and all other filed papers at the individual's "dwelling house" or "usual place of abode" with a resident of suitable age and discretion. Presumably the defendant's son is a resident at the "home" and accurately "answered" questions regarding his own identity, age and with whom he lived. Both by age and discretion, inferred from his answers to the questions, he would likely be deemed suitable to receive process. The service was reasonably calculated to give notice to the defendant and satisfy the requirements of due process.

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