Service of process, also known as service of summons or notice to appear in court, is a legal term that refers to the formal act by which one person serves another with legal documents. A process server serves papers on behalf of a plaintiff or petitioner and may serve documents such as summonses, notices of hearing, subpoenas, family court or divorce documents, claims papers, evictions, warrants, or citations pertaining to a legal action.
Why is it Important to Serve Papers Promptly?
The law requires that certain parties receive proper notice of lawsuits filed against them. This requirement ensures that those who have been sued will know about their case and have time to prepare a defense. If legal documents are not served correctly or promptly, the court may dismiss the case.
How Many Attempts Will a Process Server Make?
In the State of Louisiana, a private process server can be appointed after the sheriff’s service attempt at service has been unsuccessful or after ten days have passed, whichever is earlier. If the sheriff cannot successfully complete service and provide proof of service with a return receipt, a “service return” must be filed with the court, which states that the sheriff was unable to make service after repeated attempts. After this is filed, a private process server can be appointed.
There is usually no set requirement for how long a process server will wait between each attempt, but it is important to hire someone that will work promptly and diligently to serve your important legal papers.
What Factors Affect the Time to Complete Service?
Several factors can affect the speed and success rate for process service, including:
- Trespassing signs: Depending on your state’s specific laws and guidelines, a process server may be considered a private citizen and not part of the parish or county sheriff’s office. If that is the law in your state, they must respect “no trespassing” signs when serving papers.
- Uncooperative employers: If someone is unable to be served at their home address, a process server may attempt personal service at their workplace. If the employer is uncooperative, this can delay service.
- Denial: For example, when a person does not reveal their identity.
- Missing person: In some instances, the contact information or current address listed on the legal documents is inaccurate, and a process server must track down the correct information for proper service. This could potentially delay the time of service.
The law requires that a process server attempt to serve each individual personally to receive the relevant legal papers. Therefore, he or she should make as many attempts as possible for the best likelihood of success. By hiring a reputable company that is persistent, you can cut back on the potential of nonserves.
When Can Process Service be Expedited?
There are some instances in which the process service needs to be “expedited.” In those cases, a private process server can be appointed to deliver paperwork more quickly.
To appoint a process server without the sheriff first attempting to make service, the party that requests he or she shows “good cause” to the court. To prove this, they must submit an affidavit attesting to why service should not be attempted by the sheriff and with facts to support the claim.
Additionally, through “summary proceedings” with the court, where papers are processed more quickly, a party can seek process service through a private process server without the parish or county sheriff’s office making the first attempt within the first ten days. Examples of these cases include family law disputes such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and injunctions.
Hire a Registered Process Server that Delivers Effective, Professional Service
When selecting a process server, it is essential to ask and understand the type of service they offer and how many attempts they will make to serve your legal documents. A reliable, professional process server will continue to work until the job is done. At Lafayette Process Servers, we offer both standard and rush services and you can read more here.
The foregoing blog post has simply been presented for informational purposes only. He or those at Lafayette Process Servers LLC are not attorneys. Specific laws and guidelines will vary according to each state and jurisdiction. If you seek further information about this topic or any other legal issues, please contact a legal professional or attorney in your local area.