Serving Court Documents
Serving papers on another person is an official handing over of documents. Papers must be “served” on any other person who is involved in the law suit or who the law requires get the papers.
This lets the person(s) in the case know what you are telling the court and what you are asking the court to do.
If the papers are not served in the correct way at the correct time, the court cannot go forward with the case.
A person is served when they officially receive the papers.
Papers which start an action (Summons, Petition, Request for Order, etc.) must be filed first and then served on the other person(s).
After the papers are served, a Proof of Service form must be filled out and signed by the person who served the papers. The Proof of Service form must be filed with the court.
How are Papers Served?
Do not serve the papers yourself!
Any person who is at least 18 years old and not involved in the case may serve papers. The person who serves the papers will have to fill out a Proof of Service form showing what they gave (served) to the other parties.
Choose someone to serve the papers who is able to fill out the form.
There are companies that serve papers for you as part of their business. These companies charge money for serving the papers.
The Sheriff’s Office will serve papers for you. The Sheriff’s Office charges money unless the court waived the fee.
In a Domestic Violence case the Sheriff will serve the papers to start the case and also the Order, at no cost.
The Sheriff’s office will file the Proof of Service for you and give you a copy of the form.
You may have a friend or relative serve the papers if that person is at least 18 years old and is willing to help you, is able to complete the form to prove service and could appear in court to tell what they served. Remember, you must later file the Proof of Service.
Any Peace Officer who is present at the scene of alleged domestic violence may serve any already existing Domestic Violence Restraining Order.
A Peace Officer may issue an order restraining domestic violence, called an Emergency Protective Order, to prevent domestic violence when it is not possible for the alleged victim to get to court immediately. The peace officer serves the papers on the other party at that time.