3. Service (Español)
How is the other person notified a case has been filed?
When the petition is filed with the court, an official notice called a "summons" is issued to be delivered to the respondent. This is called service of process. Service is very important and must be done correctly. Doing it incorrectly will cause not only delay of your case, but MAY cause your case to be dismissed. Service is proper when the respondent receives a copy of the petition and the summons.
The most common methods of “service” are listed below:
- Waiver of Personal Service: When the respondent is willing to accept the petition, the respondent is provided with a copy of the petition and signs a form called "Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service.” This form must be signed before a notary public and filed with the court. All this form means is that personal service is waived. The respondent does not waive any legal rights or claims, the right to hire a lawyer, or to appear in court.
- Personal Service: The sheriff or other court officer hand delivers the petition and the summons to the respondent. It is important to provide the court with very specific information about where, how, and when to find the respondent.
- Private or Special Process Server: A special or private process server may be desirable when the respondent is difficult to find or are trying to avoid being served. This is a situation where a lawyer should be consulted to help you.
- Service by Publication: THIS METHOD CAN BE USED ONLY WHEN THE RESPONDENT CANNOT BE LOCATED AFTER DILIGENT EFFORTS. Check with a lawyer before attempting service by publication because this method of service can affect and/or restrict some of the things the court could otherwise order in the case, such as division of property, spousal maintenance, or child support. This method of service requires that a motion be made to the court that all attempts to locate or reach the other party have failed. There are specific requirements for which newspapers are acceptable for service by publication.
1. Starting Your Case: The Petition
5. Preparing for the Hearing
6. The Hearing