You’ve been SERVED!
Relax. You’re not being sued, this was just to get your attention.
But it doesn’t feel good thinking you have to defend yourself in court, does it?
Therein lies the reason it can be so hard serving papers. Most people don’t want to have to face a judge and spend a fortune on legal defense, so they’ll do anything they can to disrupt the due process.
Learn how to properly serve papers to a respondent.
Investigate Those Being Served
It’s not uncommon for people to avoid being served papers at all costs. To properly serve papers, you’re going to need to know exactly what the target of the lawsuit looks like, where they work, and where they can usually be found. If possible, anticipate their temperament and avoid aggressive confrontations.
You don’t want to waste time and effort serving papers to the wrong person— especially if that tips off the real target of the lawsuit and gives them more time to avoid being served.
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Know Your Deadline
There is always a specific deadline assigned for serving papers before your court date. This deadline will vary by state.
In some cases, you’ll have up until eight days before your scheduled court date to locate the defendant and serve papers. Other states, however, require the defendant be served a whole 30 days before the date of the court hearing.
Other factors will affect your serving deadline, such as whether or not the respondent is out of the country. Double check the requirements for your documents to make sure papers are served timely and legally.
Include The Right Documents
When taking someone to court, the smallest paperwork mistake can jeopardize your whole legal argument.
The papers you need to serve the respondent will vary depending on the case, but typically will always include:
- A “summons” telling the person to appear in court on the scheduled court date
- A copy of the petition you filed to bring that person to court
- An order of protection or temporary order if applicable
Double check all the paperwork before it’s served to make sure papers are served correctly the first time.
Complete a Proof of Service Form
Here’s the most important step.
It’s not enough to simply hand your documents to the respondent. No matter how papers are served, you will always need to complete a proof of service form and submit it before your court case.
The proof of service form will always require a description of when and where your papers were served and description of the person served. It will also need to be officially notarized.
Hire a Third-Party Service Agent
If you’re afraid for your physical safety when serving papers, don’t worry.
You always have the right to hire a third-party agent to serve papers for you. In some cases, police officers can do this for you for free. Other times, it may be necessary to hire a process server or personal investigator.
As long as the person serving the papers is over 18 and has no direct interest in the case at hand, they’re qualified to help you.
Stay Safe while Serving Papers
It can be intimidating serving papers to the person you plan to take to court.
You don’t have to do it on your own.
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