Service of process is a legal term for supplying notice to a party about a court action that affects their rights. Service of process is required for many types of court actions and each court has specific rules for how service of process must be made. Service of process can create numerous problems for a case, as often parties cannot be found and notice of court cases cannot be made to them.
The following are methods and general rules for serving process upon an opposing party in a court case:
1. Personal service is the best possible method of process service, accepted by all courts as adequate for providing notice. Personal service simply requires that the party be handed the court papers live in person.
2. Substituted service is another method, similar to personal service, however in this type a person close to the party receives the notice. Different courts have different rules, but typically it is allowed to be given to an adult who lives with the party or a close relative who will relay the notice to the party.
3. Service by mail is permitted in most United States courts, however specific rules must be followed in order to ensure all process rules are followed correctly. Most courts will require that the mail is certified and will require proof of acceptance of the mail.
4. If any of the above are attempted, in good faith, then a court may allow service by notice in a publication. These are the legal notices that you may find in a local newspaper. This should be the last method of giving service, which should only be made if the above methods are ineffective.