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” 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.