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Service: What Does it Mean and How to Do it

In various family law court proceedings you may be asked to serve the other party with the document or pleading you have filed.  This legal term of art can be confusing and not one you are used to hearing.  Usually, your attorney will take care of this procedural step.  But, it is still helpful to know what it means and how it can be done.

Serving someone with documents under the service requirements Pennsylvania and New Jersey have established, ensures that the other party knows what you have filed and is aware of any and all upcoming court hearings.  It is a formal invitation to particiapte in the legal process.

Depending on what you are serving, there are different requirements on how service must be done.  Here are the different types available:

1. Personal Service- this can be done by any adult over the age of 18 who is not a party to the matter.  It can be formal personal service via a process server or service company, or it can be someone you trust.  This person will need to complete an affidavit to later present to the court for proof of service.

2. Service via Regular Mail- you can serve some documents as simply as putting them in the regular U.S. Postal service.  To be safe, this form of service is usually combined with on of the others on this list.

3. Service via Certified Return Receipt Mail- this is service via the U.S. Postal service green card signature receipt.  You send the document and when the other party receives it, they send back a receipt you can later present for proof of service.

4. Publication- this option is used as more of a last resort.  It is often used in cases where the other party has not been heard from in a long time or there is no good mailing address.  You must take an advertisement out in a local large circulated publication detailing the pleading and any upcoming dates and times.  Many periodicals have templates you can complete and have them run.  The paper will also send you a certified proof that can be presented to the court for proof of service.

The Law Office of Diana C. Schimmel, Esquire is fully versed in the types of service necessary for each type of pleading and can assist in making sure it is done smoothly.  If you would like to contact our office for an initial consultation please click here.

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