What is a Process Server and Why are They Important?
For 40 years, Lawrence Ryan Investigations has been offering a variety of investigation services, including missing persons, corporate investigations, asset searches, and background checks, among others.
Process serving is an essential service we provide to both individuals and law firms. Each month we will serve between 50 and 100 people.
Over the years, we have found that people tend not to have a clear understanding of what a process server is.
More importantly, few people completely understand what a process server can and can’t do.
In this article, we are giving you all the details you need to understand the world of process serving.
What is a process server?
A process server is a person who delivers legal documents, informing individuals they are involved in a court case.
In simple terms, it is a messenger system to notify individuals.
But a skilled process server is more than a simple messenger.
You have process servers that will knock on a door a couple of times and then give up.
Skilled and persistent individuals go above and beyond to make sure someone gets served while not harming the ongoing legal matter.
But ensuring someone receives the legal documents is only one of many tasks a process server can handle on behalf of their client.
What can a process server do?
Tasks completed by a process server include:
- Filing court papers
- Serving legal documents
- Document retrieval
- Serve papers to a person involved in a court case
The process server offers a personal service, meaning that they will receive the legal documents from the client or law firm, and then deliver them in person to the defendant.
Once they give the documents to the defendant, they have to prove with evidence the defendant received the documents. This process is called an affidavit of service or proof of service, and it has to be notarized and given to the entity who hired the process server.
The documents must be served personally, yet there are two other main methods of service: substituted service and service by publication. The substituted service is the method used when the server can notify a person indirectly by giving the document to another court-approved friend or family member.
Legal documents that are served include:
- Divorce papers
- Custody papers
- Eviction notices
- Restraining orders
- Court summons
- Notices of being sued
All these legal papers fall into four categories: writs, subpoenas, summons, and complaints.
Why is the service of process valuable?
At the beginning of any civil lawsuit, the most necessary action required is the service of process. Not only is it essential to proceed to follow all the legal steps, but it is also needed to ensure due process of law.
If the documents are not served properly according to the law, the case can be compromised, so can the person in charge of serving the papers.
What process servers can’t do?
You can read the official civil procedures for how a process server should be managed at Uscourts.gov.
In each state, the laws regarding process serving are different from how the service should be delivered, and who can provide the service.
Some require the process server to be 18 years old and not involved in the case. Other states need them to be registered, certified, and licensed. It is up to the server to stay up to date on all laws in their state.
Many private investigators also work as process servers. Since the regulations change between states and are regularly revised, the individuals who work as process servers must be up to date with the laws of their state.
Knowing all of what process servers can do is useful, but it is as important to know what they can’t do. In some states, you are not allowed to serve on Sundays and holidays.
Process servers have no authority to do the following illegal actions:
- Check the person’s mailbox, or go through it
- Attempt to be someone else
- Pretend to be a police officer or government official
On no occasion can the server commit any of these illegal actions to serve a defendant.
The job of a process server is not easy. It may be dangerous in some cases, which is why all cases must have the most experienced professional server. Any little mistake the server commits can profoundly affect the case.
Hiring a professional and experienced process server will assure you the security of having the papers legally served and on time. It will also give you the certainty that the documents will be served no matter how difficult the situation is.
The selection of a process server should be meditated. Having an excellent process server could be a success in your case, but hiring a lousy server can even make your case dismissed. Good luck!