When you enter an action or a motion in court, it’s your burden of proof to show that you served the other party with notice of the hearing date. If you have to serve someone with legal papers, there are a few common pitfalls that you need to avoid. Here are some faulty approaches to service that you should avoid.
Giving Them to the Person Directly
In order for service to be effective, you have to be able to prove that papers were actually received. If somebody denies that you served them, your testimony may not effectively prove effective service to a court.
Asking a Friend or Family Member to Serve Papers
When you ask somebody to serve papers, that person’s testimony many be needed to establish proof of service. This means that he or she may need to come to court and testify. Depending on the person’s relationship to you or the party who you’re serving, a court may not necessarily accept his or her testimony.
Leaving Papers on a Doorstep
If you drop papers off at somebody’s house, you can’t really be assured that he or she will get them. In court, the person could claim that they were never received, and your case could be dismissed.
Sending Papers by Regular Mail
Regular first-class mail isn’t an acceptable method of service for some kinds of documents. Mail gets lost or delayed, and a person could go weeks without retrieving mail. Registered mail may be an accepted method of service in some forums. However, a person isn’t home when a registered delivery attempt is made, you may not be able to obtain a return of service with the person’s signature indicating that he or she received the documents.
If you need to serve someone with papers, the best approach is to use a professional process server. He or she can produce an affidavit of service that a court will interpret as a presumption of effective service.