How Process Servers Ensure Divorce Papers Are Served Timely

An image of a gavel and the US constitution

Serving someone court papers can be a daunting task. The complexities of the procedure require you to track down the person, ensure that they receive the documents, and receive an acknowledgment that the due process was carried out. This method can be especially tough if the other party is actively avoiding being served with court papers, which is why legal counsels often advise hiring a process serving agency to handle your needs.

What Is Process Service?

A service of process, also interchangeably called process service, is a legal procedure in the United States, which involves appropriately notifying the concerned parties facing legal action in either an administrative court or a court of law. Service of process is officially requisite because the ‘Due Process’ clauses of the United States Constitution render courts unable to exhibit personal jurisdiction over defendants who’ve not received adequate notice of court proceedings. 

Process serving laws and procedures differ from state to state. The Service of Process is an integral part of the ‘Due Process.’

Different states have different laws regarding certification for process servers. Currently, there are nine states in the USA, including California, which require process servers to be certified. However, process servers in New York are required by law to be licensed within specific regions of the state.

What Is Due Process?

Under the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution, it is expressed in no uncertain terms that no individual shall be “deprived of liberty, life or property without due process of the law.” Following Due Process, the service of process fulfills the vital function of protecting the defendant’s rights by providing them with notice of legal action or proceedings filed against them. Initially, due process was carried out by county sheriffs handing notices to defendants. However, as population centers grew, this began to take a toll on law enforcement resources, leading to the rise of process servers. 

What Do Process Servers Do?

Most states require neutral third parties over the age of 18 to deliver court papers. Litigants often hire process servers to ensure court papers are conveyed on time. Process servers have numerous responsibilities as part of their job description. Many process servers offer legal support services such as documents and electronic filing. Process servers will also often establish contact with defendants that prove arduous to track down. They also follow the local law protocols and attempt to bring the court papers to the defendant personally. 

Process servers who handle divorce cases may also provide surveillance services to locate individuals who’ve been missing or not responding for an extended period.

Who Can Serve Papers?

Laws regulate that any third party can provide court papers, as long as they’re over 18. However, in a divorce case, this also prevents your child from delivering court papers. You can use a certified mail service instead to send court papers. Although this process is often effective, it does require a return of acknowledgment, which may be difficult to procure in divorce cases where one party doesn’t want to divorce.

The insides of an empty courtroom

Can I Serve Papers Myself?

The legislation doesn’t allow for individuals associated with the case to serve papers. A non-affiliated third party is required to serve documents. In divorce cases, this also exempts children of the parties from being able to convey court papers. There are some instances where you may be allowed to serve the defendant, given that they choose to waive formal service.

Why Should You Use Process Servers For Divorce Cases?

Hiring a process server is a recommended practice. Process Servers are acquainted with the complex laws of process serving and help ensure that the necessary documents are provided quickly. Many process service agencies provide the option of same-day process service, which can benefit concerned individuals.

Process servers also prove helpful if the defendant is trying to be evasive. Persons looking to avoid divorce, for instance, may try to be elusive by avoiding receiving court papers or delaying the process for as long as possible. 

Process servers can aid you as they must sign an affidavit of service upon delivering the court papers. An official document, the affidavit of service, serves as a testimony of court papers delivered to the recipient. The form includes the date, time, and manner in which the server presented the documents to the defendant. Another crucial fact to consider is that some states do not allow court documents to be delivered on a Sunday. Otherwise, the service is declared void. When an individual tries to avert receiving papers, the process server can leave the documents in their mailbox. Process servers can also provide documents to an acquaintance of the individual in question. However, they’re required to get details of the acquaintance, including their name and contact information. If they fail to do so, they’re required to note down a detailed description of the person.

It’s also pertinent to find a process server that operates in the area where the opposing party lives. For example, in a divorce case, the process service agency must be based or serving in the same county as the one where your spouse lives.

Signage advertising divorce bargains

What Documents Are Required For Serving Divorce Papers?

You must initially file your paperwork at the local courthouse. The officials at your local courthouse will provide you with two sets of copies of the documents. You’re advised to keep the originals for yourself and send a copy of the three essential documents required to serve your spouse’s divorce papers. These three documents are a copy of the filed complaint, a copy of the summons, and a joint preliminary injunction. 

A copy of the filed complaint is a necessary document that details why the divorce motion has been filed.

It is also recommended that a copy of the summons be included to serve divorce papers. Summons is a court order requesting the defendant to appear in court at a set date. In divorce cases, they are often referred to as divorce summons papers.

A joint preliminary injunction is also required. A preliminary injunction is a court order that prevents both partners from selling, hiding, or dispersing community property. 

What Happens If My Spouse Tries To Evade The Court Papers?

Process serving agencies are well-versed in dealing with demanding clients or clients trying to avoid being served with court papers. Typically, process servers will try to give someone court papers personally, attempting to establish contact as often as 3-5 times. However, this is not always possible, in which case there are other methods that process servers may employ. 

The process server will begin by signing an “affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry, ” highlighting the server’s attempt to trace the defendant and serve them with papers. One of the stipulations for this document is that the process server must have tried to contact the defendant at least three separate times and on three different dates. The process server must also provide the court with the recipient’s last known address and verify that they checked in public places such as local hospitals, the tax office, the department of motor vehicles, and so forth.

Once the court approves, there must be a notice issued in the newspaper, and it must run for at least 32 days. Another affidavit must be signed stating that the defendant has been provided further notice through publication. Publishing in the newspaper allows the defendant with another opportunity to view and respond.

Some states also allow ‘drop service’ and ‘substitute service’ for unruly defendants who refuse to comply with papers being served to them. Drop service allows a service process agent to deliver the court papers once the defendant’s identity has been established. Establishing the defendant’s identity does not require verbal confirmation. The documents are considered served even if the defendant does not pick them up or chooses to shred them.

Substitute service is only allowed in some states. Substitute service allows documents to be delivered to someone living with the defendant in the same shared space or to an individual who has been provided authority by the defendant, in writing, to accept documents on their behalf. 

A sign displaying the operating hours of Family Court

Process Serving In New York

If you’re looking to serve someone court papers, and you’re seeking a process service agency in New York, look no further than Elite Process. Elite Process is a same-day process server based in New York. Elite Process offers various services ranging from serving divorce papers to ex-spouses to delivering civil summons and complaints. Located in Whitestone, Elite Process caters to New York City’s five boroughs, including Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Contact us to have a professional agency catering to your process service needs.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *