Process Serving Frequently Asked Questions
Click the links below to jump to a specific item:
- What is Service of Process?
- Who can serve papers?
- What does a Legal Process Server Do?
- What are the benefits of using a local process server from ServeNow.com?
- What is ServeManager?
- How much does it cost to get papers served?
- Can papers be faxed or mailed?
- How long does it take to get papers served?
- Where can defendants be served?
- What if the person cannot be found or is evasive?
- Will a process server file my papers with the court?
- What if the person does not accept the papers?
What is Service of Process?
United States legal procedure requires that each party in a case should be notified if actions are taken against them in a court of law. Process serving is an important aspect of the Due Process of Law.
Process serving laws and rules of civil procedure are different from state to state. You should visit the State Rules of Civil Procedure section of Serve-Now.com to learn more about service of process in your state.
People are notified of actions against them or court procedures involving them through the delivery of legal documents such as summons, complaints, subpoenas, order to show cause, and writs.
One type of service is called “substituted service”. This legal process of service is when the documents are left with an adult resident of the named party at the target’s home, or with a management level employee at their place of business. There are also circumstances when posting in a prominent place (followed up by a certified mail copy) is an accepted method of service.
Who can serve papers?
When service of process was first instituted, it was performed by sheriffs or deputies, and agents of the court. This became a burden on law enforcement, so the legislation was 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 can serve papers.
Keep in mind that process serving laws differ from state to state and may change. Some states require a that process server be licensed, some require registration with the county and in some states they are required to post a surety bond. Visit the State Rules of Civil Procedure section of ServeNow.com to learn more about service of process in your state. At ServeNow.com we believe you will get the best results by using a local, professional process serving company over the sheriff.
What does a Legal Process Server Do?
A legal process server delivers (serves) these documents to the defendant or individual listed on the legal document being served. Once the documents are delivered, an Affidavit of Service, also called a Proof of Service, is notarized and given to the party who requested the service.
If you would like to download an Affidavit of Service for your state, you should visit ServeNow.com’s Free Legal Documents repository.
What are the benefits of using a local process server from ServeNow.com?
ServeNow.com is a directory of local pre-screened process servers. By using a process server listed on ServeNow.com, you are going straight to the person or company who is going to be serving your papers. You will save time and money, and you will have a shorter chain of communication regarding your serves should you have questions regarding the status of your service.
Additionally, all process servers listed on ServeNow.com go through an application process in which they must provide two letters of recommendation and have at least one year of process serving experience.
Most importantly, by using a process server on ServeNow.com you have a place to go if you ever have problems with your service. Click here for our contact information.
What is ServeManager?
ServeManager is a web-based application that allows process servers to communicate with their clients- paralegals, lawyers, debt collectors, other process servers and more. Whether you have 5 serves or 5,000 serves, ServeManager provides an interface where you can see the status of all your serves at any given time. ServeManager allows the client to upload one or more jobs at a time, find a process server, and assign the job to a specific process server. On the other end, the process server can download all relevant documents and obtain information necessary to perfect the serve. During the life of the job, the client will be kept abreast of the status of their serve and can communicate with the process server.
ServeManager is a one-of-a-kind application that allows process servers and their clients to collaborate from any internet connection. You will find no application in the process serving industry that is as secure and reliable as ServeManager.
ServeManager is currently free to use for both process servers and those who use process servers. Creating an account only takes a few minutes.
How much does it cost to get papers served?
On average, the cost of a routine service can range anywhere from $35 – $100. Prices can be lower in some states and higher in others. As the serve becomes more difficult or costly for the process server, you can expect to pay more. You may incur additional mileage fees or skip tracing fees if you need the person located. Additionally, if you have a rush serve or you need papers served the next day or on a holiday you can expect to pay more.
When getting a price quote from a process server you will want to ask a couple questions… “What is your turn-around time? (How quickly can you get this done?)” and “How many attempts do I get at the quoted price?”.
Can papers be faxed or mailed?
In many cases you will be able to fax or email papers to the process server. You will need to find out if the original papers need to be served before determining how you will get the papers over to the server.
How long does it take to get papers served?
Turn-around-time (or TAT) can vary from process server to process server. However, this is something that can be determined in most cases by you, which usually leads to a higher cost. Most process servers rates for the following speeds of service:
- Same Day Service
- Rush Service (first attempt usually within 3 days)
- Routine Service (first attempt with 5-7 days)
Where can defendants be served?
This depends on which state the papers are being served in or are coming from. This is also an important reason why you need a process server. In most states, you can serve anyone anywhere at anytime. In some states like Virginia, Florida and others, you cannot serve someone at their residence on Sundays, nor can you serve them when they are traveling to and from a court of law. Some states don’t allow serves to occur on holidays. Please check the laws in your state or consult with a professional process server.
What if the person cannot be found or is evasive?
If the named party in the documents cannot be found, the court may allow service by publication in a newspaper. Before this can happen, you may be asked to prove to the court that a reasonable attempt was made to actually serve the defendant or the person named. This is where the hiring of a professional process server comes into play.
In some states a “Substitute Service” is acceptable. This is when someone other than the defendant is served. This should be done only as the last resort and shown as part of the Due Diligence process. Please refer to the rules of civil procedure in your state.
Will a process server file my papers with the court?
Yes, is the short answer. Most process servers offer a suite of legal support service including document filing. It is likely that you will have to pay an additional fee for this service.
What if the person does not accept the papers?
In most cases they do not have to accept service in order for it to be considered effective. If the defendant comes to the door but refuses the papers, the process server may just have to leave them at their feet and walk away. In some states proper service has been perfected if the person admits to being the defendant and/or they actually touch or are touched with the papers. Please refer to the service of process laws in your state.
Do I need a process server?
First of all, it is important to know that many states require a process server to be licensed. So in these states, the answer is yes.
Hiring a Legal Process Server is an important step in proceeding with a court case. Process servers have the skills and experience to serve your legal documents in timely and affordable manner and, more importantly, serve them in accordance with the local and state process serving laws.
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 papers to be served on a person traveling to court. It is also very important to note that papers cannot be served by someone who is involved in the case or legal proceeding.
If a serve is not done in accordance with these rules, this can hinder your case from going forward or result in the dismissal of your case. Improper Service also delays obtainment of evidence, which can cause injunctions, court fees, and attorney’s fees.
If you are serious about your case, you want the papers to be served properly. Paying a professional process server a nominal fee can save your case.
Does a process server need to be licensed?
Not all states require a process server to be licensed. However, some states require that process servers be registered in their county or state, or appointed to serve in a specific county. The below states require a process serving license.
What is an Affidavit of Service and a Proof of Service?
An Affidavit of Service, also called a Proof of Service, is a signed document provided to you by your process server upon completion of serving your documents. Proof of Service states when, where, and who was served. There are a number of other affidavits that can be provided to you as a client. For instance, an Affidavit of Due Diligence may be provided if the person to be served cannot be located.
Who should use ServeNow.com?
Anyone needing to hire a process server should utilize ServeNow.com to find pre-screened local process servers. This includes but is not limited to: legal professionals, collection companies, corporations, government agencies and the general public.
More information can be found on Process Serving at ServeNow.com's Process Server Glossary