For process servers new and old, there will come a point in time at which papers need to be served over the course of a holiday. With the holidays around the corner, process servers are looking to their schedules to see when they can get a serve completed. So the question remains: can process servers legally serve papers on holidays?
You Can Serve on Holidays Everywhere Except Minnesota and New York
The short answer to the question is that yes, service of process can be conducted on holidays in every state except Minnesota and New York (service on religious observance days are prohibited). At the time of publication, Minnesota is the only state in which serving on holidays is expressly prohibited in their rules of civil procedure. New York’s statute on civil procedure (Civil Practice Law Article 21) does not expressly prohibit service on holidays; however, it is cited elsewhere in the state statutes and multiple times on the state’s “Court Help” web pages.
Unfortunately, the short answer is not a one-size-fits-all answer that applies to every state — or even every county within a state — as nearly all have their own legislation and requirements regarding service of process. So as a reminder, always check both your state’s legislation as well as your county regulations to be sure you are current on the rules.
Furthermore, while service on holidays is largely permitted, there are a number of states that prohibit service of process on Sundays (and in New York, on Saturdays that are observed as holy days). There are some states in which holidays are included or specifically excluded when computing time, which is especially pertinent with regard to filings.
The information contained in this post is not meant to be exhaustive, and while we do our best to ensure accuracy, there is the possibility of error. Serve Now and its writers are not liable for any errors in content. Confirm your state and county’s rules of service prior to attempting service.
Knowing You Can, Should You Serve Papers on Holidays?
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Now that you know nearly all states allow process servers to serve on holidays, more importantly, perhaps, is the question of whether you should serve papers on a holiday. At what point do empathy and decency come into play? But in the same token, do bleeding hearts pay the bills? After all, no one ever enjoys being served. Unfortunately, part of our job means being the bearer of bad news. At the end of the day, deciding whether to turn down any work is a tough choice to make.
Michigan Process Server Jake Tjapkes, owner of U.S. Private Process Serving Agency, said of choosing not to serve on Sundays or holidays, “It’s a respect thing.”
Jess Johnson, owner of Bulldog Legal Services, said “My best day to catch people at home is Sunday! Holidays are days off for me too. I don’t want to embarrass them in front of family.
For many process servers, it’s not about feelings, respect, or even getting the work. Instead, it’s about getting a break. Working non-traditional hours can be a grind, and taking the time off for the holidays is a great way to stay refreshed and avoid burnout.
Process Server Joe Defscafano said, “No way, holidays are for family. We have more than enough time to serve them without cutting into family time.” Dave Forsythe of Forsythe Professional Services LLC also prioritized family: “I’m a family man and take the holidays to enjoy with them. I spent too many years working virtually every single holiday and I’m taking that time for me now. Many of my client[s] don’t want their stuff served on Sunday so I usually just take Sundays off.”
These sentiments were echoed by process server Joe Acosta who said, “I don’t think so. It’s one day out of the year that families are actually able to spend time together and are generally happy. I say no.”
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