Contact us whenever you need it!

+1 855 997 0206

Contact hours: Mon-Fri 8am - 10pm ET

LEGAL DICTIONARY

Process Server

What Is a Process Server?

A process server is someone who delivers legal documents –often in person– to defendants who are named in a court proceeding. By properly notifying an individual of a court proceeding, the process server upholds an American citizen’s right to due process, which is part of the U.S. Constitution.

States and jurisdictions within states can vary in terms of their requirements when it comes to the licensing, certification, and registration of process servers. Many jurisdictions allow law enforcement officers to serve process.

A process server must follow all relevant laws in their jurisdiction. For example, a process server must provide documentation to comply with local laws and keep records of their service of process that would be admissible in court if needed, such as an affidavit.

How Does a Process Server Work?

A process server’s primary job is to deliver legal documents to a party named in a legal action. The purpose is to provide notice that the legal action has begun or that documents have been filed in the case.

The type of documents a process server most commonly delivers include a summons and complaint. A summons is the official notice of a lawsuit, while a complaint describes legal proceedings that are being brought to a court.

A process server also can deliver a subpoena, a legal document that requests documents or evidence for a court case. A subpoena might require the served individual to attend court as a witness. Other documents a process server typically delivers are writs (i.e., a writ of possession) and divorce papers from one spouse to another.

What Constitutes Proof of Service?

Proof of service (also called return of service or service affidavit) is a document that verifies that the service of process took place. It is required in most states.

In order to show proof of service, the process server must sign a document attesting to the service being carried out. The proof of service document includes the who, what, where, when, and how information of the served papers. The process server is liable for any issues that arise from how the service was performed.

For example, a process server must follow the law when serving papers, or they could face criminal charges and penalties. Here are some of the rules the right legal process server must follow:

  • A process server cannot enter a locked building or property. If the person being served is not home or is avoiding service, the server must come back at another time or wait until the individual comes out.
  • A process server cannot use harassment or threats when attempting to serve the documents.
  • A process server cannot falsely claim to be a court official or a police officer.
  • A process server cannot leave the documents with a minor. If the individual being served is evasive, the process server may leave the documents with an adult member of the household.

What Process Does a Process Server Follow?

In most cases, a process server goes to the individual’s home or office address, knocks on the door, confirms the person's identity, and hands the person the document while telling them they have been served. There are no time restrictions on service, but service is not permitted on Sundays.

Then, the process server completes an affidavit of service to file with the court. Some jurisdictions require that the proof of service document be notarized.

If the service of process is unsuccessful, the attorney may file a motion with the court asking to serve the person in another manner.

Helpful Resources:

ABC Legal

New York State Attorney General

NAPPS

Berenji & Associates

Stephens Law

What Is a Process Server?

A process server is someone who delivers legal documents –often in person– to defendants who are named in a court proceeding. By properly notifying an individual of a court proceeding, the process server upholds an American citizen’s right to due process, which is part of the U.S. Constitution.

States and jurisdictions within states can vary in terms of their requirements when it comes to the licensing, certification, and registration of process servers. Many jurisdictions allow law enforcement officers to serve process.

A process server must follow all relevant laws in their jurisdiction. For example, a process server must provide documentation to comply with local laws and keep records of their service of process that would be admissible in court if needed, such as an affidavit.

How Does a Process Server Work?

A process server’s primary job is to deliver legal documents to a party named in a legal action. The purpose is to provide notice that the legal action has begun or that documents have been filed in the case.

The type of documents a process server most commonly delivers include a summons and complaint. A summons is the official notice of a lawsuit, while a complaint describes legal proceedings that are being brought to a court.

A process server also can deliver a subpoena, a legal document that requests documents or evidence for a court case. A subpoena might require the served individual to attend court as a witness. Other documents a process server typically delivers are writs (i.e., a writ of possession) and divorce papers from one spouse to another.

What Constitutes Proof of Service?

Proof of service (also called return of service or service affidavit) is a document that verifies that the service of process took place. It is required in most states.

In order to show proof of service, the process server must sign a document attesting to the service being carried out. The proof of service document includes the who, what, where, when, and how information of the served papers. The process server is liable for any issues that arise from how the service was performed.

For example, a process server must follow the law when serving papers, or they could face criminal charges and penalties. Here are some of the rules the right legal process server must follow:

  • A process server cannot enter a locked building or property. If the person being served is not home or is avoiding service, the server must come back at another time or wait until the individual comes out.
  • A process server cannot use harassment or threats when attempting to serve the documents.
  • A process server cannot falsely claim to be a court official or a police officer.
  • A process server cannot leave the documents with a minor. If the individual being served is evasive, the process server may leave the documents with an adult member of the household.

What Process Does a Process Server Follow?

In most cases, a process server goes to the individual’s home or office address, knocks on the door, confirms the person's identity, and hands the person the document while telling them they have been served. There are no time restrictions on service, but service is not permitted on Sundays.

Then, the process server completes an affidavit of service to file with the court. Some jurisdictions require that the proof of service document be notarized.

If the service of process is unsuccessful, the attorney may file a motion with the court asking to serve the person in another manner.

Helpful Resources:

ABC Legal

New York State Attorney General

NAPPS

Berenji & Associates

Stephens Law