02 Jun 2022

Process Server San Diego

The Active Legal provides legal services in San Diego, and North County. We are committed to our clients by offering an array of legal services in a fast, accurate, and efficient manner. The Active Legal will take on your service of process request and work with efficiency and professionalism to ensure prompt and stress-free service of all documents. All of our services are provided with a meticulous attention to detail. We are committed to keep you informed on the status of your orders, letting you know of all attempts, when it was served or if there are any problems we may encounter.

What is Service of Process?

A service of process, or simply known as process service, is a legal procedure in the United States, which declares all parties must be notified when facing legal action against them in a court of law or an administrative court. Process service is accomplished through the delivery of a set or series of documents describing the legal action. Examples of documents that comprise service of process include summonses, complaints, subpoenas , writs, and other court documents. These documents are delivered to the individual whom the legal action is directed by a process server. Service of process must be served by an individual who is not a party to the case.

How to Serve Legal Documents?

When service of process was first instituted, sheriffs or deputies, and agents of the court performed this important aspect of due process. This became a burden on law enforcement, so the legislation 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 in court can serve papers.
Keep in mind that process serving laws differ from state to state and may change. Some states require that process server be licensed, some require registration with the county and in some states, they are required to post a surety bond.
In general, there are several requirements and constraints associated with the rules of service of process. In some states, you cannot serve on Sundays or holidays. Some places do not allow process service on a person traveling to court. It is also very important to note that papers cannot be served by someone involved in the case or legal proceeding.

Why Hire a Process Server in San Diego?

If a serve is not done in accordance with these rules, and other rules determined by your state, it can hinder your case from going forward or result in the dismissal of your case. Improper service also delays the obtainment of evidence, which can cause injunctions, court fees, and attorney’s fees.

As a process server, our company will serve your legal documents and, once completed, file an affidavit of service with the appropriate court. We serve all types of legal documents such as eviction notices, personal protection orders, divorce papers, custody papers, landlord/tenant, subpoenas, garnishments, order to show cause, and more.

E-Filing

More and more courts are switching from in-person filings to online electronic filings. We will electronically file your affidavits and other documents (when applicable) into the correct court, saving you time and stress.

09 Feb 2022

6 Tips to help you get a friendly divorce

I can’t stand it anymore! I’m getting divorced! Before reaching this decision and starting the divorce proceedings, it is crucial to reflect on the reasons why you want a divorce. Sometimes, couples therapy helps to avoid marital breakdowns.

1. Focus on the present and future, without looking for blame

While you are having a bad time, it is challenging to think about today and tomorrow, especially if the breakup has been traumatic. However, continually stirring up the past and looking for blame for the divorce does not lead to anything. It does not provide a constructive solution to the problem.

2. Give in sometimes so that you can gain peace of mind

To have a divorce without problems, you have to know how to give in and be clear that not all battles are going to be won. For this reason, you have to prioritize and fight only the essential battles.

3. Mutual agreement divorce: it is always the best option

Getting a divorce by mutual agreement is the best option. This favors a climate of dialogue and makes it easy and quick to divorce. Even more so in the event that there are children, since a more favorable environment is created and, in addition, it allows the new situation to be assumed better and more quickly.

4. Take a realistic look at your financial situation

The separation and distribution of assets is always a sensitive issue in case of separation. Therefore, it is very convenient to make a detailed and realistic list with all the shared finances (accounts, debts, etc.), as well as the economic needs that will be had later.

5. Have all the documentation in order

A divorce process requires several procedures, which implies having many documents in order. When more “paperwork” is arranged, the work of the lawyers who are in charge of the process will be easier.

8. Use good professionals: lawyers, mediators, and a service of process company

For the divorce to be a success, it is important to surround yourself with competent and prepared professionals. You have to listen to them, let yourself be guided by them -they are not emotionally involved and can see the situation more clearly- and not generate false expectations. Consider divorce mediation, the work of the mediators is also very important. They always try to make the two parties win without there being a loser.

Contact The Active Legal today to get help with filing and servign the divorce papers. While getting a divorce is one of the most challengin situations in your life. We have years of service of process experience in San Diego and are ready to serve your needs.

01 Nov 2021

How to serve legal documents in California?

What Is Service?

The law says that when you sue a person, partnership, corporation, or the government, you must give formal notice to the other side that you have started the legal process. In the same way, when you are already involved in a case and file papers with the court, you are required to give the other side notice of the paperwork you have filed. The legal way to give formal notice is to have the other side “served” with a copy of the paperwork that you have filed with the court.

“Service of court papers” means that the other side must get copies of any paper you file with the court.  In “service” a third person (NOT you) is the one who actually delivers the paperwork to the other side.  The person who does this is called the “server” or “process server.”

Personal Service
“Personal service” means that someone – NOT a party to the case – must personally deliver the court documents to the other side.

In “personal service”:

  • The server gives the papers to the party being served. It can be at the party’s home, work, or anywhere on the street.
  • The server has to identify the party being served and hand the legal papers to him or her and inform him or her that they are court papers.
    • If the party being served does not want to take the papers, they can be left on the ground in front of him or her.  If he or she takes the papers and tears them up or throws them away, service is still considered to be valid. The person being served does not have to sign anything.
  • The server then fills out a proof of service, detailing when, where, and how (in person) the papers were served. The server signs the proof of service and returns it to you to file in court.
  • Personal service is complete the day the papers are served.

“Personal service” is the most reliable type of service because the court knows for sure that the person being served got the papers and, if necessary, can question the process server about the “service.”

Since it is the most reliable, “personal service” is valid in all types of case.  Also because it is so reliable, it is generally required when serving the first papers (the petition or complaint) in a case.

Serving Court Documents

Serving papers on another person is an official handing over of documents. Papers must be “served” on any other person who is involved in the law suit or who the law requires get the papers.

This lets the person(s) in the case know what you are telling the court and what you are asking the court to do.

If the papers are not served in the correct way at the correct time, the court cannot go forward with the case.

A person is served when they officially receive the papers.

Papers which start an action (Summons, Petition, Request for Order, etc.) must be filed first and then served on the other person(s).

After the papers are served, a Proof of Service form must be filled out and signed by the person who served the papers. The Proof of Service form must be filed with the court.

Using The Active Legal to serve legal documents is easy. Start by getting informed with some of the most common questions regarding Service of Process, or call us today to hire a professional server of process in San Diego.

03 Sep 2021

Court Filing Services San Diego

Court Filing Services San Diego

Have a last-minute or same-day filing in San Diego County? Visit our website or call us for a rate. The Active Legal has you covered.

Same Day & Rush Court Filings

Our San Diego-based legal couriers are not just regular people driving to court and standing in line at a court house. Instead, the Active Legal Services staff is trained and is expected to know the basics of court procedures. This allows our same-day and rush court filing service to be as quick and efficient as possible. 

Our experience after so many years of servicing the legal sector allows us to know in advance how to solve any issues that may arise at the San Diego court, including problems with filing and fees. 

  REQUEST QUOTE   

Most Common Legal Documents We File at San Diego

We can deliver and file a wide array of different legal documents for you. Whether it be a complaint, petition, or summons, we make sure all of your documents are delivered as quickly as possible and in a safe, confidential manner.

  • Complaints
  • Petitions
  • Summons
  • Answers
  • Motions & Proposed Orders
  • Dismissals
  • Defaults

How to File Court Documents

Active Legal Services makes it easy to file your court documents whenever you need physical document filing in San Diego.

You can follow any of the following points to have Active Legal file your legal documents with the San Diego court:

  • Send us your documents via email
  • Send your documents through our website www.theactivelegal.com
  • Schedule a pickup day and time to have our courier pick up the records at your office

As part of our court filing services, we digitally store your conformed copies free of charge.

Additional Court Services

In addition to court filing, our legal service of process department can assist you with:

  • Obtaining copies of documents from court files
  • Court Research
  • Fax Filings
  • Out of county filings
  • Service of process
  • Investigations
  • Small Claims

Proof of Service

Many attorneys and law firms in San Diego, CA, trust Active Legal Services to get their court filings done quickly and accurately. Our years of experience as a preferred court filing and service-of-process company in San Diego allow us to file legal documents quickly and accurately.

You can trust us with your last-minute filing. We have a rush court filing service available that can get your documents filed the same day.

Advantages of using Active Legal Services

Trained and Experienced Legal Couriers

Each of our legal couriers is trained to be knowledgeable about court procedures.

Open 24/7

Contact Active Legal if you have a filing that has to be rushed or filed first in the morning.

Court Experience

All of our couriers are familiar with the courthouses, clerks, and legal process to expedite your legal filing in San Diego, CA.

Schedule a San Diego Court Delivery Today

Let’s work together and file your documents with a San Diego courthouse at any time. Including Family, Federal Courts, County Courts, Criminal Courts, and Civil courts. Our legal couriers have handled thousands of legal court filings cases for attorneys and individuals with a track record of excellency.

02 Apr 2021

Small Claims Support in San Diego, CA

The Active Legal provides the support you need for filing a small claims suit in San Diego county.

Using The Active Legal is easy. Start by getting informed with some of the most common questions regarding Small Claims, see how much you can file a claim for and most importantly whether you have a basis for a small claim suit.

With our assistance, it’s easier than ever to get your money back!

Top Reasons To Use Small Claims

  • Security deposit
  • Car Accidents
  • Property Damage
  • Collection of money owed
  • Suing a collection agency
  • Creditors that pull your credit file without permissible purpose
  • Collection of money owed

Before going to small claims, it’s advisable that you try to resolve the matter formally through a demand letter or cease and desist letter.

Demand letters are legal documents sent between two parties when a wrong has occurred. Typically written by attorneys, demand letters request that the party that is receiving the letter right an injustice that has befallen the victim as a result of the receiver’s actions. Wrongs can include things like breach of contract, not following through with an obligation, being involved in a car accident, or any other offense that resulted in some sort of disadvantage or injury to another party. 

Writing out demand letters asking another party for restitution is what precedes an actual lawsuit. It’s essentially the step before you get to court, but after more amicable attempts have been made to recover compensation for damages. You can say they work as a warning or strong reminder – an attempt that one party makes to get paid by the other, before actually having to bring them to court. 

These letters are not a legally binding order against another party. Cease and desist letters, also, do not convey or hold jurisdiction for a lawsuit.

Small Claims Checklists for California!

  • What is the maximum amount you can sue for?

You can sue for up to $10,000, if you are an individual or a sole proprietor. Corporations and other entities are limited to $5,000. In addition, a party (individuals or corporations) can file no more than two claims exceeding $2,500 in any court throughout the State of California during a calendar year.

  • What’s the statue of Limitations for your case in California?

California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1 gives you two years, starting from the date of the underlying accident or incident, to file a civil lawsuit seeking a legal remedy (compensation) for “injury to, or for the death of, an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.”

  • What’s the statute of limitations in California with a written contract?

If the contract is written, the statute of limitations is four years under California Code of Civil Procedure section 337(a). If the contract is oral, however, the statute of limitations is only two years. That’s section 339(1) of the California Code of Civil Procedure.

  • What’s the statute of limitations in california Property Damage
The statute of limitations on property damage claims is three years in California. This means if you do not file a lawsuit within two years to recover compensation for your injuries, you still have additional time to file a lawsuit to obtain compensation for property damage.
18 Jan 2021

Tips to help you file for Divorce in San Diego, California

The process of filing for a Divorce in the United States may vary depending on which state you live in. However, all states have the following characteristic: an individual can request a divorce without proving that the partner is at fault, that is, as it’s often mentioned, a no-fault divorce. 

In this article, we will talk specifically about divorce in San Diego, California and learn about different things that you need to keep in mind when you decide to file for a divorce. 

Why is it important to learn about divorce laws in California? 

Suppose you are a resident of San Diego and want to get divorced. In that case, you need to understand that California’s divorce process is not necessarily the same as in neighboring States. 

If you decide to file for divorce on your own, you must visit the Family Law Court website for information about the proper steps and guidelines to complete your divorce.

Forms of representation 

There are many ways to have your interests represented in the divorce process; let’s go to them: 

Represent yourself: 

You can represent yourself; however, we don’t recommend it, particularly if you have children. An experienced family law attorney will be better equipped to handle child support, visitation, and spousal support.

The following scenarios are ideal for individuals who want to self represent themselves:

  • You are comfortable filling out court forms.
  • You have a relative knowledge of the laws of the State of California as it pertains to the divorce process.
  • There is not much property to be divided.
  • Your partner does not hire a lawyer T
  • There are no children. In this scenario, there would not be much to be discussed (Guard of the children, division of assets and etc.). 

Hire a mediator: 

Hiring a mediator is a better option than the previous one. This is ideal for cases when the couple continues to communicate in a respectful and friendly atmosphere. In this case, the idea is to reach an agreement without going to court. 

Hire an attorney: 

This is the best option when children, wealth, and other important issues are involved. 

If there is a dispute over child custody, over the division of the estate, infidelity, or anything that could make the divorce a faulty process, the presence of an attorney for both parties is necessary. 

Property Division

Property division in the state of California, property accumulated during the marriage is considered marital property, meaning the value of the property is assumed to be divided equally. Premarital property is deemed to be individual and is not subject to division. 

The state of California allows the couple to decide how the property will be divided; however, a Judge is always necessary to formalize everything. 

Entering the divorce process 

To enter the divorce process in San Diego, California, it is necessary that at least one of the parties has lived in California in the last six months and lived in the county where he/she lives for at least three; otherwise, the divorce process cannot take place in California. 

Filling out forms and entering the process 

Divorce forms are relatively intuitive and easy to fill out; however, an attorney’s help is always welcome. There are sites on the Internet that locate the family law court closest to where you live.

After you have completed the necessary forms, it is required (legal obligation) that you provide copies to the other party. We recommend that you do this by hiring an agent for service of process.

Waiting for the answer

 If you have started the divorce process, the responding party has 30 days to complete the response and return it to you. 

Financial information 

After the petition has been fulfilled, it is necessary for you to gather financial documents and fill out a few more forms. At this time, the help of an attorney is imperative. 

Completion of the divorce process 

The steps for finalizing the divorce process depend on the response that the other party gives to the petition. The best possible scenario is when there are an answer and an agreement, in which case the divorce is considered indisputable, requiring only the fulfillment of some bureaucratic stages. 

In case of no agreement answer, the divorce goes to court. In this situation, both parties will need lawyers to represent their interests. Important decisions about the custody of children, the estate division, etc., will be made by the Judge. Obviously, the Judge’s decision is not final and can be reviewed; even the party that felt harmed by the decision can appeal.

03 Nov 2020

San Diego California Registered Process Server

It is our commitment to provide the best service, The Active Legal is recognized as of the top registered Process Server in San Diego due to our dedication and unmatched services that we provide across San Diego county.

There are many benefits for yourself when you hire a Professional Registered Process Server in San Diego, California. Give us the opportunity to show how fast and efficient we can be. It only takes a phone call or an email to get started for your personalized full-service legal support. When you are looking for self-representation and need a process server look no further! We want your business, The Active Legal team provides a broad spectrum of comprehensive legal support services at an unparalleled level of quality.

Our goal is to help attorneys and individuals save time and money by providing an affortable and efficient service of process and court filings among many other legal support services at the lowest possible rate.

Some examples of legal documents where you may use The Active Legal professional process servers are:

  • Summons & Complaints
  • Record & Personal Subpoenas
  • Small Claims Cases
  • Restraining Orders
  • Writs – Bank Levies
  • Notices to pay or Quit
  • Wage Attachments
  • Cross-complaints – Evictions
  • Pleadings – Motions
  • Correspondence – Discovery
  • Order for Appearance and Examination

Additional Services that we offer:

  • Daily Court Filing Service
  • Rush Court Filing Services
  • Court research Services
  • Messenger Service
  • Skip Tracing & Stake Outs

 

04 Aug 2020

Small Claims Court California

What is the maximum amount I can sue for in California?

The California small claims court limit is $7,500 for an individual and $5000 for a corporation. This means that the maximum you can sue for in Calfornia are these limits and if your dispute exceeds these amounts you cannot sue in small claims or will need to lower your claim or file in a higher court.

*Special Notes: A plaintiff may not file a claim over $2500 more than twice a year and the plaintiff must be an individual (limit local public entity or for businesses is $5000)

What is the California small claims court statute of limitations?

The California small claims court statute of limitations depends on each claim. If you have a written contract you have 4 years to make a claim. If your claim involves property damage you have 3 years, and if the claim is oral or dealing with personal injury the statute of limitations in California is 2 years.

Where do I file my small claims case?

You need to file your small claims complaint where the defendant resides or in contract disputes, in the locale where the contract was signed. The appropriate courthouse may NOT be where you live.

How do I know if I should sue in California small claims court?

The first thing you need to ask yourself is “do I have case?” Before you file a claim you should consider the following:

  1. Is the amount of the claim worth your time to pursue?
  2. Does the person you have a claim against having any possible claim against you?
  3. Does the person you have a claim against have the ability to pay if you win?
  4. Do you feel you have the ability to prosecute the claim without the help of an attorney?
  5. Can your evidence convince a judge that you are in the right? In other words, are you making it easy for them, is it a clear cut case? Can you find any state statute, law, or code violation to validate your case? If so, point this out!

What kind of cases can I sue for in California small claims court?

These types of cases are generally heard in Small Claims courts:

  • Unpaid debts
  • Breach of a verbal or written contract
  • Back rent
  • Return of security deposit
  • Broken or damaged property
  • A doctor or hospital bills
  • Other issues valued at $5000 or less (check your state below as this varies state to state)

Can I sue on behalf of someone else?

In most states an individual who represents a party to a small claims court action must complete and sign an “Authorization to Appear on Behalf of Party”- a form typically provided by the clerk of the small claims court or often found on their website. The representative must state that he/she is authorized to represent the party, and he/she must describe the basis for authorization (usually a letter from the represented party will suffice.)

What is the demand letter?

Before you file a small claims complaint with the court you are required to send a demand letter to the defendant. The defendant is the person you believe owes you money. A demand letter simply spells out that the defendant owes you money and you are requesting they pay the outstanding debt to you within 30 days. You can also fulfill the demand requirement by requesting via phone, email, or in person. By fulfilling this requirement in writing you are also able to show this request was made when compiling your evidence for court.

What do I do once I file a complaint?

Once you file a complaint you need to wait for the defendant to be served and for the paperwork to be filed with the courts. The time for you to get a court date can vary from court to court as it depends on how backed up they are. Typically this can be a 2-month process.

What happens if the defendant does not show?

can If the defendant does not show up the court can decide the case without them there. It is also possible for the other side to lose the case by default and a default judgment can be issued against them.

What happens if I win?

If you win you are entitled to the amount granted by the judge. The defendant does have 30 days to file an appeal. If there is no appeal, the losing party may voluntarily pay. It may become necessary to get the court to award judgment, garnish wages, or other necessary means.

What happens if I lose?

If you lose you may have to pay the other sides costs and expenses (not including lawyers fees.)

How long does it take to learn if I win or lose?

The decision by the judge or arbitrator can vary from court to court. In some instances, you may get your decision by the end of the hearing. Often you will get your decision sent to you by mail.

How do I present evidence in a small claims case?

Presenting evidence is very important in proving your case to the judge or arbitrator. You want to make your case as simple as possible and clear that you are in the right. Speaking as little as possible is generally preferred. Make sure you have you any documents, contracts, emails, pictures and any other necessary evidence to back up your case.

Is an attorney allowed in small claims court?

No attorney is not allowed in small claims court with you. The only was an attorney is allowed is if you are an attorney and you are representing yourself.

Simple things the Plaintiff needs to know!

  1. You are the Plaintiff, the person you are suing is the defendant!
  2. Keep copies of all your forms for court.
  3. Make sure you have all the dates of when the incident occurred. If you don’t have the date, give a period of time.
  4. How did you calculate what you believe is owed to you? Be specific!
  5. Make sure you send a demand letter first. Click here if you need help with this!
  6. You must file in the right jurisdiction! This is either where the defendant lives or does business, the plaintiff’s property was damaged or where you were injured, or where the contract (written or spoken) was made, signed, performed, or broken by the defendant or where the defendant lived or did business when the defendant made the contract.

Simple things the Defendant needs to know!

  1. You don’t need to file any papers for court unless the jurisdiction is incorrect. If you think the court is wrong you can send a letter to the court before the trial date asking the court to dismiss the claim.
  2. If you lose the case you can appeal it for a fee.
  3. You CAN settle the case before the trial. For information on settling your case click here.
  4. Try and win your case! Bring any information such as witnesses, receipts, and any evidence to prove your case.
  5. You can sue the person suing you but look closely at the filing deadlines!
  6. Be careful of defaulting! If you don’t settle and do not go to trial the judge may just award the plaintiff what they are requesting plus court costs. If this happens the plaintiff can legally take your money, wages, and property to pay the judgment!

Tips!

What if I need more time?

You can change the trial date if:

  1. You cannot go to court on the scheduled date (you will have to pay a fee to postpone the trial) or
  2. You did not get served at least 15 days before trial (or 20 days if you live outside the country) or
  3. You need more time to get an interpreter. One postponement is allowed, and you will not have to pay a fee to delay the trial.
01 Jul 2020

Filing Fees, Court Papers, and Court Dates

Filing Fees, Court Papers, and Court Dates

How Much Does It Cost?

Fees for filing a case in small claims court are very moderate—usually not much more than $75. In some states, people with very low incomes can ask to have court filing fees waived. Normally, a defendant doesn’t have to pay anything unless the defendant files a claim against the plaintiff (often called a counterclaim). There is usually an additional fee for serving papers on the opposing party, unless you are in a state that allows personal service to be carried out by a nonprofessional process server and you have a friend who will do it for you without charge. Most states allow service by certified or registered mail, which doesn’t cost much. In a few situations, you may have to hire a professional process server. How much this costs will depend partly on how hard it is to find the person you need to serve. You can get your filing fees and service costs added to the court judgment if you win.

Filing Your Lawsuit

Now let’s look at how you obtain and fill out the papers you need to start your lawsuit. To get started, check your state’s small claims court information website. You should be able to get the information and forms you need to begin your lawsuit online, including a formal demand letter. If you get the forms from your state’s website, you will also need to check whether the county or court where you plan to file has additional forms or requirements for filing a small claims court action (some do). You can also visit or call the small claims court where you plan to file your lawsuit.

To start your case, you will have to file a complaint or claim. This form is often called a plaintiff’s statement, general claim, or plaintiff’s claim. Most states have forms and free self-help information on their small claims court website. You can also get the forms from the court where you will be filing your lawsuit. If you do it this way, you will likely receive a package with all the forms you need and instructions for filling out the forms and filing your papers.

In most cases, you will need to provide the following information to

complete your complaint or claim:

• your full name, address, and telephone number

• the correct name and address of the person or persons you are suing (including whether this is an individual, partnership, sole proprietor, limited liability company, or corporation)

• the amount of your claim

• the reason the defendant owes you money, and

• whether you have any other claims against that person or other small claims cases.

Other information may be required as well. Follow the instructions on your forms and if you still have questions, ask your local small claims court clerk for help. In most states, small claims clerks are required to help people fill out these forms.

You will need to check the rules of the court where you are filing your case and follow those procedures for filing your papers and paying your filing fee. In most jurisdictions, you can file your papers in person or by mail. You’ll need to file the original signed document and required number of copies with the court. Some courts allow electronic filing (eFiling) for small claims cases, either by the plaintiff directly or through an approved online service provider; eFiling is becoming more widely used for small claims and is even required in some jurisdictions. Be sure to check and follow the rules for the court where you plan to file your case.

You will also need to pay the court a filing fee. If you can’t afford the fee, you may be able to have it waived. Check with your local court for rules on waiving this fee.

In most small claims courts, you don’t need to provide written evidence until you get to court. Some small claims courts, however—such as those in Washington, DC—require that certain types of evidence (such as copies of unpaid bills, contracts, or other documents on which the claim is based) be provided at the time you file your first papers.

Whether or not your state’s rules require written documentation of certain types of claims, it is wise to spend a little time thinking about how you will prove your case. You should read ahead and figure out exactly what proof you will need and how you will present it before you file your first court papers. Being right is one thing—proving it is another.

The Defendant’s Forms

In most states, a defendant doesn’t have to file any papers to defend a case in small claims court unless the defendant wants the case transferred to formal court. However, in a few states, a defendant must respond in writing. (See the appendix for your state’s rules.) In the majority of states, defendants simply show up for the hearing on the date and at the time indicated on the papers served on them, ready to tell their side of the story. (If you need to get the hearing delayed, see “Your Court Date,” below.) It is proper, and advisable, for a defendant to call or write the plaintiff and see whether a fair settlement can be reached without going to court, or to propose mediation.

Sometimes a party you planned to sue sues you first (for example, over a traffic accident where you each believe the other is at fault). As long as your grievance stems from the same incident, you can file a defendant’s claim (sometimes called a counterclaim) for up to the small claims court maximum and have it heard by a judge at the same time that the plaintiff’s claim against you is considered. However, if you believe that the plaintiff owes you money as the result of a different injury or breach of contract, you may have to file your own separate case.

In all states you must file any defendant’s claim (counterclaim) in writing within a certain time period after being served with the plaintiff’s claim (usually ten to 30 days). When you file a defendant’s claim, you become a plaintiff as far as this claim is concerned. In those states where only the defendant can appeal, this means that if you lose your defendant’s claim, you can’t appeal that part of the case. Of course, even in these states, if you lose on the original plaintiff’s claim, you can normally appeal that portion of the judgment. Appeal rules vary from state to state and can be complicated. 

In most states, if a defendant’s claim is for more than the small claims maximum, the case will be transferred to a formal court. Some states allow transfers only at the discretion of a judge, who may inquire whether the defendant’s claim is made in good faith. A defendant who does not want to cope with the procedures of formal court may be wise to scale down the claim to fit under the small claims limit. 

06 Dec 2019

What is an Agent for Service of Process?

What is an Agent for Service of Process?

Before you form a corporation or limited liability company, you’ll need to choose an agent for service of process.

The term sounds like complicated legal jargon, but the concept is really quite simple. An agent for service of process is a person who receives lawsuits and other documents on behalf of your business. Depending on the state where you live, the agent may also be referred to as a registered agent or statutory agent.

What Does “Service of Process” Mean?

If someone sues your business, he or she must notify the business that a lawsuit has been filed. Every state has laws that describe how that notice must occur. For example, in some states, a copy of the lawsuit must be personally delivered by process servers, while in other states it must be mailed by the court clerk. The person who delivers the lawsuit makes a record of the date of delivery, or “service,” and this determines your deadline for filing a response.

Delivery of the lawsuit is known as service of process. “Service of process” can also refer to delivery of other legal documents, such as subpoenas requiring you to testify in court.

Why Do I Need an Agent for Service of Process?

If someone sues your corporation or LLC, they need to know who to serve the lawsuit, or “process” upon. And as a business owner, you need to know that if your business is ever sued, you will actually receive notice of the lawsuit. You wouldn’t, for example, want a lawsuit delivered to a part-time teenage employee who’s about to quit.

For this reason, every state’s laws require each business entity to designate a person or company that will accept service of process for the business in that state.

You are required by law to have an agent for service of process in the state where your business was formed and in each additional state where your company is registered to do business.

What Does a Registered Agent for Service of Process Do?

The registered agent is responsible for accepting legal documents that are served on your business. The agent must then forward the documents to the appropriate person in your company.

The agent’s name and address will appear on your business entity’s public records. As a result, the agent may also receive notifications from the secretary of state and taxing authorities. The agent must also forward these notifications to you.

If the agent’s address changes, you must make sure the agent’s address information is updated with the state. Your business may be subject to penalties if it fails to maintain a registered agent.

Who Can Provide Registered Agent Services?

A registered agent must have a street address in the state where he or she is acting as agent – not just a P.O. box. Some states call this the “registered office.” The agent must be available at that address during normal business hours.

Most states allow anyone aged 18 or over to act as agent. You can choose an owner or employee of your business as your agent. You can also name an outside person such as a lawyer, or a business entity that provides registered agent services.

Who Should I Choose as My Registered Agent?

The registered agent has an important job, so the person or entity you select should be responsible and trustworthy. Although you can save money by acting as your own agent, there are instances where you might prefer to hire someone else to do the job. Here are some things to consider:

  • The agent must be available during normal business hours. If you are not usually in your office during the day, you should choose someone else as agent.
  • If you or one of your employees act as your agent, you may suffer the embarrassment of having a process server deliver court papers in front of your customers and employees.
  • The registered agent’s name and address appear in your corporation or LLC’s public records. If you have privacy concerns, you may prefer to appoint someone else as agent.
  • If you do business in more than one state, you will need an agent in each state. For consistency, you may find it easier to hire a registered agent company to provide this service in all states.

A registered agent is a necessary part of any business entity’s operating structure. By choosing a reliable agent, you ensure that you are promptly informed about legal actions and official correspondence so you can take the proper steps to respond.