Executive man being served by a process server

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 person, a cheating spouse, corporate investigations, or a battle for custody, our experienced and trained detectives will get the job done efficiently.

Process serving is a key service Lawrence Ryan Investigations Each month we will serve between 50 and 100 people.

Over the years, we have found that people tend to misinterpret or do not 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.

What can a process server do?

Process servers are used in numerous tasks. Some of the jobs they have are:

  • Filing court papers
  • Serving legal documents
  • Document retrieval
  • Serve papers to a person involved in a court case

What can a process server do?

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 individual being served. The whole process needs to follow how, when, and where the documents can be notified.

Once they give the documents to the person being served, they have to prove with evidence that the papers were delivered to the right person. 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.

Some of the papers or documents they serve are:

  • Divorce papers
  • Custody papers
  • Eviction notices
  • Restraining orders
  • Court summons
  • Notices of being sued
  • Subpoenas

All these legal papers are classified into four categories: writs, subpoenas, summons, and complaints.

Proof of serving process in a lawsuit

Why is service of process important?

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 required to make sure that due process of law is sustained in the United States. Another reason why civil society values it as crucial is to have a warranty that the legal documents are being served effectively and appropriately.

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.

A process server can make your case a succes or get it dismissed.

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 in terms of 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 require them to be registered, certified, and licensed. It is up to the server to keep updated the information from the laws of each state related to their job.


Federal Rules of Civil Procedures


Many private investigators also work as process servers. Since the regulations change between states and are constantly being 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, it is not forbidden 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
  • Break-in
  • Trespassing

On no occasion should the server commit any of these illegal actions to get the documents served.

Attorney talking to client



The job of a process server is not easy. It may be dangerous and difficult 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 bad server can even make your case dismissed. Good luck!