If you are about to initiate a legal proceeding, whether it’s filing for divorce or asking the court to grant you custody of your children, you will have to serve notice to the other side to inform them that you are initiating the process. The reason for the notice is to give the other party sufficient time to prepare and respond to your upcoming lawsuit.
You can give notice several different ways, but the most convenient and popular way is through your lawyer. Most attorneys use professional process servers to deliver court papers and notice to the opposing party.
What Is a Process Server?
A process server is a vital part of the legal process. Process servers can do various tasks, such as filing papers and retrieving documents from the court. However, the main job is to serve legal documentations.
In order for a process server to “serve” a document, they need to present the legal document to a party involved in the proceeding. Once the document has been delivered, the process server must offer proof of service to the court of the delivery.
Under California laws, a process server can be an individual or they can work for a company. The individual does not need any official training. The two main requirements are to be over the age of 18 and not a party to the legal proceeding. If the process server serves more than ten documents a year in a particular county, they must register with that county.
Serving Papers to Parties Avoiding Service
In some cases, parties think they can avoid having to appear in court if they can physically avoid touching the legal documents they are being served with. This is not the case in California. There are several steps the process server can take to serve a party that is avoiding service:
- Substituted Service. Process servers can use substituted service if they can show several failed attempts to deliver via personal service. In such cases, they can simply leave the legal documents with anyone who is over 18 years of age and lives at the residence or appears to be in charge, if it is at a business address. The process server must also mail the papers to the address and complete additional paperwork with the court to prove they were unable to personally serve the person.
- Service by Mail. Service by mail is used in situations when someone not involved with the case mails the documents to the person being served. The documents can be sent to either a home or business address, depending on the individual being served.
- Acknowledged Receipt. In some cases, the opposing party who is to be served knows it and is willing to cooperate. This allows the process server to mail the documents. The other party agrees to sign to acknowledge that they have received the documents.