Process services are used when legal documents are needed to be directly served to an individual. It is a very common procedure. 

What Is Process Service?

Process serving is the procedure in which an individual is being summoned to court or having legal action taken against them. A hired process server is responsible for delivering the documents to the targeted individual being served. When serving documents to an individual, while it is often fine to leave the documents with a member of the household, documents cannot be served to anyone under the age of 18. 

How Does Process Service Work?

A process service will need to locate the targeted individual. They will normally begin looking at the individual's last known address. Some individuals know that they are being served documents so they will hide and avoid anyone who may be serving them documents. Because of this, there are certain things that process servers are allowed to do to deliver or locate the documents. 

They can do things like:

  • Leave documents with a member of the household
  • Wait outside their house for the individual to come/go
  • Wait outside their job for the individual to come/go
  • Use skip tracing or collecting information to trace a target
  • Submit an affidavit saying they were unable to serve the papers — the individual will then be served publicly, like in the newspaper.

Process Service Laws

Though process servers are able to wait outside the home, workplace, or family's house, they are not legally allowed to trespass in the process. 

A few other things they are legally prohibited from doing include:

  • Pretending to be anyone they are not, including law enforcement
  • Harass the target
  • Leaving documents with a minor
  • Check someone's mailbox to obtain an address
  • Breaking and entering

These laws will vary by state. In some states, process servers may be able to ignore no-trespassing signs. 

What Kind of Documents Get Served?

There are many kinds of documents that are able to be served through process serving. 

Those documents can include:

  • Summons
  • Complaints
  • Subpoenas
  • Divorce papers
  • Writs, or court orders

Why Would Someone Use Process Service?

The 5th Amendment states that no person should have property, life, or liberty taken from them without due process of law. This means that every individual legally has to be served notice or documentation that they are being summoned or having legal action taken against them. Process service is the first step in a legal case. If process service doesn't happen, and an individual is not served their documents, a case may be delayed. 

How Much Does Process Service Cost?

The cost of hiring a process server is usually set by the state. The cost to hire a process server is between $20-$100. If a case becomes difficult due to a target repeatedly avoiding the process server, they may end up charging more money due to it taking more time and effort.