Service of Process

Judge Reading Documents At Desk In Courtroom

The definition of the word “serve” in terms of the law is as follows: To deliver a legal document, especially a process or notice; to present a legal notice or subpoena to a person as required by law. The actual service of person isn’t nearly as glamorous as some of the TV shows or movies make it out to be- still, the issue of service, and whether it was done properly or improperly, can be a confusing one. Let’s look at one woman’s situation to help us gain a better understanding of the service of process, especially in family law matters.

She starts by telling us this: “I had my ex initially personally served with a motion to set aside our divorce judgment. After that all papers and related motions have been served on his attorney…”. Some of those related motions were need-based motions for attorney fees and costs, a motion to compel discovery, and things of that nature. The attorney whom she served with the motion papers remains her ex-husbands attorney of record through all of this. Her question: Was this service process correct? Or did her ex need to be personally served at the start of every separate motion?

Service on an attorney for a party, rather than on the party himself, is proper if the attorney has made an appearance for the party, either by filing a paper with the court on the party’s behalf, or stating in court that he represents the party.  If she started serving his attorney after he or she filed a paper on behalf of her ex husband, or showed up in court for her ex-husband, service on the attorney was proper. If she started ‘serving’ the attorney with papers before he or she appeared for her ex-husband, service of those papers was improper. However, filing a response to an improperly served motion would generally be considered a waiver of the impropriety. It sounds as if it is too late for her ex-husband to complain about improper service, if there is any to be found.

For more on the process of service, family law, and more, please visit our website: http://stanprowse.com

Divorce papers: have you been served?

Petition for divorce paperSeparated from his wife of 18 years of marriage, a man goes to pick up his children for a weekend visit. She wants a divorce; he does not. Upon his arrival at his spouse’s home, a friend of the wife attempts to hand him divorce papers while he’s in the car. He claims he “didn’t accept them”. He wants to know if he has really been served properly if his wife’s friend threw them into his car after he refused to accept them.

The answer is simply yes. That is a valid service of process. It doesn’t matter if you don’t “accept” the papers. There is no signature necessary or legalities with being served. The best thing for this man to do is accept the realities of the situation and realize that there is no stopping the process if his wife truly wants a divorce.

For more information on the process of divorce, visit our website: http://stanprowse.com/divorce-five-steps-before-filing