Methods of Serving Process Process serving is the act of delivering court summons and other relevant documents
to those who are party to a legal dispute. Process service is an important part
of the legal system, providing both sides with the opportunity to present their
side of the story in a court of law. Consequently, there are specific laws and
procedures that guide the act of serving process. Many of these regulations are
concerned with the method in which the papers are served. Here is a guide to the
most common means of serving process.
The best means
of serving process is hand delivery of the papers. This is generally accomplished
by the process server's visiting the recipient's home or workplace. In an ideal
situation, the recipient will willingly accept the service. However, things do
not always go as planned.
The intended recipient may be reluctant to receive
process. In this case, the process server may need to employ such tactics as surprise,
serving the papers in an unusual location. Again, the process server is governed
by federal, state and local laws as well as procedural regulations.
If the process server is unable to hand deliver the paperwork to
the intended recipient, some jurisdictions permit process to instead be served
to a legal adult who lives with the recipient. In some areas, the papers must
also be mailed to the intended recipient. Generally, substituted service is only
permissible if the process server can demonstrate that the recipient was unavailable
for service. He or she must also be able to show a reasonable expectation that
the substituted service would be satisfactory.
Service by Mail
the intended recipient is located in another state or a foreign country, service
by mail may be sufficient. Be sure that you understand the relevant laws and procedures
before attempting service by mail.
Service to Registered Agent
a general rule, corporations are required to maintain registered agents in those
states in which they do business. The registered agent is a third party that is
legally permitted to conduct business matters, including receipt of process service,
on behalf of the company. If you have a legal dispute against a corporation, determine
whether that company has a registered agent in your state.
If an intended recipient simply cannot be found, process service
may, in some jurisdictions, be conducted by publication. In this case, notice
is printed in a local publication, which is generally a daily newspaper. There
are generally very specific regulations in place regarding service by publication,
in order to protect the rights of the defendant. If you are considering service
by publication, be certain that you understand the relevant laws and procedures.
Process service is an extremely important step in the legal
process. It is heavily regulated in order to ensure that the defendant's rights
are protected. Hand delivery is always the best means of process service. However,
it is not always possible to use this method. Other means of process service are
provided for by law, although extremely strict guidelines generally govern their
use. If you need to serve process on someone who cannot be found, carefully consider
other available options. Seek legal advice from a qualified attorney when necessary.
In this way, you can prevent poor service of process from damaging the court case.