What is a legal service of process?

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Service of process what people commonly know as serving papers. This is a legal process that notifies people of any legal actions against or involving them. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into what legal service of process is and the methods used to accomplish it. Read on!

How Legal Service of Process Works

When someone files a lawsuit in a court of law, they’re required to serve the summons and the complaint document to the defendant.

The complaint is the legal document describing the legal claims against the defendant. Meanwhile, the summons provides information about the court case, such as the time and place where the defendant must appear to avoid a default judgment.

The method by which the complaint and the summons are delivered to the defendant is called the service of process. This can be done in person or through a legal service of process company, such as Weservelegal.com.

The service of process must happen at the start of the case. It must be done properly and within a reasonable amount of time. Otherwise, the court won’t assert jurisdiction over the case. If not done right, the service of process can be damaging to the plaintiff’s case, which can be dismissed by the judge. The court may also vacate the judgment if the service of process is invalid.

Methods of Service

Anybody can serve papers as long as they’re a citizen of the state in which the case will be tried in court. The process server must be of legal age and not connected to the case in any way. The person should serve the legal documents to the defendant within a predetermined time and provide proof of service.

Meanwhile, process servers can serve documents in various ways.

Personal Service

As the name suggests, personal service means the paper is served to the defendant in person. Depending on the state or province, the personal process server may be private or public entity. This is the oldest method of serving papers; it’s also the most reliable since it’s direct and difficult to contradict.

The service will be valid even if the defendant refuses to take the papers in hand, tears them, or throws them away. The process server can also simply put the papers down if the defendant acts hostile or tries to run away.

After delivering the papers, the process server must fill out a proof of service. This proof details the place, time, and method of service. Once done, the proof of service returns to the claimant. Typically, personal service of process can be done anywhere at any time. However, some US states don’t allow personal service to happen during Sundays or holidays.

Substituted Service

The plaintiff can use substituted service if personal service attempts have failed. In some states, the process server is allowed to leave court documents at the defendant’s home with a person living there who is old enough to understand the meaning of accepting the service.

Meanwhile, other states require the documents to be attached to the entrance of the defendant’s home or business. A copy should also be mailed to their last known address.  Substituted service doesn’t hold up in court unless proof is filed that shows personal delivery and mailed notice are both done.

Alternative Service

If the service still can’t be done through personal and substituted means, some states allow the use of alternative services. However, the judge should approve it in advance. The court will then determine what method will ensure that the defendant receives the notice of the lawsuit. These methods may include mailing or publishing the legal documents on newspapers in the state or county where the defendant lives or the case is pending.

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