Do I need to show up for court if I was never served papers? I live in South Carolina.
I cannot speak for or about the jurisdiction of South Carolina because I practice law in Utah (so you need to inquire with a lawyer who is licensed to practice in South Carolina), but I can tell you a few things as a general rule of thumb:
- Many people are under the mistaken belief that “if they don’t give me them court papers first, the court is powerless to do anything to me”. Not true. Good faith, duly diligent efforts to effectuate service of process on you or at least—depending on the proceedings—notice to you is generally required before court action can be taken against you, but if, despite duly diligent efforts to locate you or chase you down to hand you “them court papers,” you cannot be found or served, there are other ways that a court will deem you to have been served and/or put on notice.
- If you hide in an effort to evade service/notice, the court will take that into account and hold that against you. No one can game the system this way. When that happens, the court can order that service on you be accomplished through alternative means. Such as? For example:
- the court could order that notice be mailed to your last known address (if you’re not there, that’s your problem, not the court’s);
- the court could order that notice be given in the form of an email or text message (to your last-known email address or phone number; if the email address or phone number used is not an address or number you use anymore, that’s your problem, not the court’s);
- the court could order that notice be given in the form of an instant message to an open social media account of yours (if you don’t use it anymore, but didn’t close it, that’s your problem, not the court’s);
- courts could (as they did frequently in the past, but not so much nowadays) give notice by publishing a notice in the “legal notices”” section of the newspaper (kids, for those of you too young to know what a newspaper is, you can click here)
- So if you think that avoiding service of process or closing your eyes and ears to notice is going to thwart the court or the opposing party, the joke’s on you.
- If you think you don’t have to appear in court merely because you didn’t receive service of process or notice (or more accurately, did your darnedest to ensure you didn’t get service or notice), again, the joke’s on you.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277