Myth vs. Fact

Myth One: I can serve these documents myself.


Fact: According to the California Rules of the Courts, it is very important that if you are the plaintiff/petitioner or defendant/respondent, that you do NOT serve your own papers. Attempting to serve your own documents the courts will consider it “BAD SERVICE” and may cause your case to be dismissed. In all cases, the “server” or “process server” MUST:

  • Be 18 years old or older;
  • Not be a party to the case;
  • Serve the paperwork on the other side in the time require;
  • Fill out a proof of service form that tells the court whom they served, when, where, and how; and
  • Return the proof of service to you so you can file it with the court.




Myth Two: If the person getting served refuses to take the papers or tears them up or attempts to destroy the documents service is not complete.


Fact: According to Rules of the Court, personal service is considered complete even if the person getting served tears up the documents or refuses to take them.




Myth Three: The Process Server didn’t say or tell me “You’ve been served.” So I’m not served.


Fact: The Process Server is a Registered Officer of the Court and is delivering legal documents to the party served. The Process Server doesn’t have to say “You’ve been served.” The Process Server can tell the person getting served that they serving legal documents and any questions should be directed to the courts. Process Servers do not give legal advice, their job is to deliver legal documents to the party getting served on the behalf of the courts.




Myth Four: I live in a gated community so a process server can’t serve me.


Fact: According to the California Rules of Civil Procedure § 415.21 Access to gated communities. (a) Notwithstanding any other law, any person shall be granted access to a gated community for a reasonable period of time for the sole purpose of performing lawful service of process or service of a subpoena, upon identifying to the guard the person or persons to be served, and upon displaying a current driver's license or other identification, and one of the following: (1) A badge or other confirmation that the individual is acting in his or her capacity as a representative of a county sheriff or marshal. (2) Evidence of current registration as a process server pursuant to Chapter 16 (commencing with Section 22350) of Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code or of licensure as a private investigator pursuant to Chapter 11.3 (commencing with Section 7512) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code. (b) This section shall only apply to a gated community that is staffed at the time service of process is attempted by a guard or other security personnel assigned to control access to the community.




Myth Five: If I hide or don’t answer the door at all, the process server can’t have me severed.


Fact: There are other ways to serve a person avoiding service. After serval attempts (usually three attempts one in the morning, late evening, and one on a weekend day) the process server can use Substitute Service and leave the documents with a someone of the age of 18 such as a roommate, cohabitant, spouse or other relative that lives in the home and complete serving the documents. In addition to the subservice the server must mail a copy of the legal documents to the party served at a U.S. postal office or drop. Following the mailing the server must fill out a Due Diligence form accompanying the Proof of Service of Summons giving details of all attempted dates and time of service. Service by Mail means the server mails the papers to the party being served. If the party being served is a person, the papers can be mailed to his or her home or mailing address. If it is a business, the papers must be mailed to the owner(s) at the business’s main office. If the business has an agent for service, the papers should be mailed to the agent for service. The server then fills out a Proof of Service, detailing to whom the papers were mailed, to what address, when, how (by first-class mail), and where they were mailed from. The server signs the Proof of Service and returns it to you to file in court. Service by mail I completed after five days after the papers are mailed. If granted by the courts Service by Publication in a newspaper in the area where the person lives can be done to fulfill process of service. Service by Posting means that the court clerk posts the summons and complaint in a visible place designated for court notices at the courthouse. Like “service by publication,” you have to ask the court’s permission to do this. It is usually used when you do not know how to find the other side and do not have an address or workplace for him or her. BUT in order to qualify for “service by posting” and do away with the requirement to publish your summons and complaint in a newspaper, you usually have to qualify for a fee waiver.





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