≡ Menu

Court Facts: What You Should Know About the Importance of Serving Court Documents

In the US, Americans who think they’ve been harmed illegally can seek relief through their local court system. The US Constitution’s due process clause addresses this administration of justice. This clause states that legal proceedings should be fair so that no one is denied their “life, liberty or property.”

Fair proceedings includes following all laws to notify defendants that a legal matter has been filed against them. Delivering these notice papers is called serving court documents. You can find out more here, on so that your rights are protected.

What Does Serving Court Documents Mean?

Serving court documents is when a party delivers legal papers, outlining their intent to launch a legal action against another party. The shorter term for this act is called “service of process.”

If these court documents aren’t delivered consistent with the law, a judge may dismiss the case in court. Once a defendant is properly served, they must appear in court. If a defendant refuses to come to court, you can request the judge to issue a default judgment against the other party.

There are a number of ways to deliver legal papers that notifies defendants of claims against them. Some of these methods include:

Personal Service of Process

Personal service of process occurs when defendants receive court documents in person. If court documents are served on a business, that business’ representative is spelled out in the court documentation.

Substitute Service of Process

Substitute Serve of Process happens when court documents are left with another individual when the defendant is either unavailable or refuses to be served court papers. This other individual must be at least 18 years old. You can read on what methods process servers can use to finish their job with these uncooperative litigants.

Service by Posting at Location

This method is used only for eviction cases. Court papers are posted on the property where the eviction will take place. Service by posting is used after there have been many unsuccessful attempts to serve papers in person.

Service by Publication

“Service by publication” This method means that you’ve published your summons or complaint in the newspaper of general circulation in the area where the defendant lives. Plaintiff’s get a judge’s permission to use this method if they don’t know have the address for defendants or no other way to locate them.

Service by Displaying at the Courthouse

Plaintiff’s also need a judge’s permission to post their summons or complaint at the courthouse. The court clerk will post these papers in a visible place inside the courthouse. Plaintiff’s use this method if they don’t have an defendant’s address as an alternative to the service by posting method.

Service to Someone in the Military

You can also serve court documents to someone on active duty in the armed forces. But the process is a little more complex.

If the defendant in your case fails to appear in court because they are deployed to other countries, a judge won’t issue a default judgment against them if they’ve been properly served. The federal government has given active duty military personnel special protections.

In order to get a default judgment, it’s up to you to prove that the defendant is really not a military employee. You would need to file a Declaration of Nonmilitary Service with your court, asserting this claim. It’s then up to the court to decide if your claim is valid or not.

What Does a Process Server Do

Process servers are the professionals who can file court documents with the court on your behalf. They can also deliver or “serve” court documents to the opposing party involved with your case. Once they’ve delivered these legal documents, process servers then fill out an Affidavit of Service that verifies that the court papers were “served.”

In the past, law enforcement officers served all court documents to both parties in a lawsuit. These officers still serve some court documents like warrants and restraining orders. But the modern-day process server system now allows for delivering all other court papers so that police officers can concentrate on their main job-stopping crime.

What Papers Can a Process Server Deliver

State law spells out which case documentation a server can serve. When it comes to process service rules, the law of the state where the case comes from, dictates which service rules apply.

Most of these documents include different kinds of civil actions such as wage garnishment or small claims cases. Other court papers might include complaints or an order to appear in court. Process servers can deliver these court papers in most local, state or federal court systems.

Defendants should be served their own individual set of court papers. If there are multiple parties at one location, they must each have their own copies of the same documentation. This includes married couples and multiple business partners who operate out of the same office.

Next Steps

Do you need help serving court documents in your case? If so, then you’ve come to the right place. You can start by visiting the ServeNow.com website to find licensed professionals near you.

When you’ve picked a company, ask them to tell you about their personal and substitute service process experience. You can also ask them to share their experiences in local, state and federal court systems. Ask them how they handled defendants who refuse to be served.

Don’t forget to check our if you need help finding other legal professional help. Court documents are much more than just a slab of paper. Serve them correctly and your case will move through the system easily.