What is Service of Process?
United States legal procedure requires that each party in a case should be notified if actions are taken against them in a court of law. Process serving is an important aspect of the Due Process of Law.
Process serving laws and rules of civil procedure are different from state to state. You should visit the State Rules of Civil Procedure section of Serve-Now.com to learn more about service of process in your state.
People are notified of actions against them or court procedures involving them through the delivery of legal documents such as summons, complaints, subpoenas, order to show cause, and writs.
One type of service is called “substituted service”. This legal process of service is when the documents are left with an adult resident of the named party at the target’s home, or with a management level employee at their place of business. There are also circumstances when posting in a prominent place (followed up by a certified mail copy) is an accepted method of service.
Who can serve papers?
When service of process was first instituted, it was performed by sheriffs or deputies, and agents of the court. This became a burden on law enforcement, so the legislation was changed. Now, in many states, any US citizen that is not a party to the case, over the age of 18, and residing in the state where the matter is to be tried can serve papers.
Keep in mind that process serving laws differ from state to state and may change. Some states require a that process server be licensed, some require registration with the county and in some states they are required to post a surety bond. Visit the State Rules of Civil Procedure section of ServeNow.com to learn more about service of process in your state. At ServeNow.com we believe you will get the best results by using a local, professional process serving company over the sheriff.
What does a Legal Process Server Do?
A legal process server delivers (serves) these documents to the defendant or individual listed on the legal document being served. Once the documents are delivered, an Affidavit of Service, also called a Proof of Service, is notarized and given to the party who requested the service.
If you would like to download an Affidavit of Service for your state, you should visit ServeNow.com’s Free Legal Documents repository.
Can papers be faxed or mailed?
In many cases you will be able to fax or email papers to the process server. You will need to find out if the original papers need to be served before determining how you will get the papers over to the server.
Where can defendants be served?
This depends on which state the papers are being served in or are coming from. This is also an important reason why you need a process server. In most states, you can serve anyone anywhere at anytime. In some states like Virginia, Florida and others, you cannot serve someone at their residence on Sundays, nor can you serve them when they are traveling to and from a court of law. Some states don’t allow serves to occur on holidays. Please check the laws in your state or consult with a professional process server.
What if the person cannot be found or is evasive?
If the named party in the documents cannot be found, the court may allow service by publication in a newspaper. Before this can happen, you may be asked to prove to the court that a reasonable attempt was made to actually serve the defendant or the person named. This is where the hiring of a professional process server comes into play.
In some states a “Substitute Service” is acceptable. This is when someone other than the defendant is served. This should be done only as the last resort and shown as part of the Due Diligence process. Please refer to the rules of civil procedure in your state.
Will a process server file my papers with the court?
Yes, is the short answer. Most process servers offer a suite of legal support service including document filing. It is likely that you will have to pay an additional fee for this service.
What if the person does not accept the papers?
In most cases they do not have to accept service in order for it to be considered effective. If the defendant comes to the door but refuses the papers, the process server may just have to leave them at their feet and walk away. In some states proper service has been perfected if the person admits to being the defendant and/or they actually touch or are touched with the papers. Please refer to the service of process laws in your state.
What is an Affidavit of Service and a Proof of Service?
An Affidavit of Service, also called a Proof of Service, is a signed document provided to you by your process server upon completion of serving your documents. Proof of Service states when, where, and who was served. There are a number of other affidavits that can be provided to you as a client. For instance, an Affidavit of Due Diligence may be provided if the person to be served cannot be located.