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How Does Service of Process Work?

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When you file a lawsuit in Georgia, you must serve a copy of the lawsuit on the opposing party. This rule applies to all lawsuits, including divorces and other family law matters. 

Georgia Code §9-11-4 governs the service of lawsuits. The law allows for several methods of service, including service by:

  • The sheriff in the county where the action is filed
  • The marshal of the court or an official deputy of the marshal
  • A citizen of the United States appointed by the court to serve the papers
  • A person who is 18 years old or older who is not a party to the case and has been appointed by the court to serve process
  • A certified process server 

Using a process server is a common way to serve legal documents in Georgia. Knowing what process servers can and cannot do may help you understand what to expect if you are served with papers. 

What Is a Process Server?

A process server is someone who serves lawsuits and other legal documents on parties. Certified process servers are defined by statute as someone at least 18 years old. 

The person files an application with the sheriff’s office stating they will comply with the laws, rules, and regulations for serving legal documents. In addition, the person must meet the statutory requirements to be a certified process server.

Process Servers Cannot Harass or Stalk People To Serve Documents 

Some people may believe they can avoid service of process by ignoring the process server. However, there are other methods of service an attorney can use to serve you with a divorce complaint or other legal document related to a family court matter. 

Process servers are used because they often use creative ways to serve papers to individuals evading service. For example, they might wait outside someone’s job to serve them when they go to their vehicle. They cannot engage in harassment or stalking to serve papers. 

Process Servers Cannot Pretend To Be Someone Else To Serve Papers 

Process servers cannot pretend to be police officers, attorneys, or other people to serve papers. Likewise, they cannot pretend to be delivery people or customers to gain access to your workplace. 

A process server must be honest about who they are and why they are approaching you. Most process servers confirm your identity, hand you your papers, and then say you have been served.

A Process Server May Give the Papers to Another Person

The law permits service to someone who lives with you who is over 18 years old. The person must understand why they are being handed papers and that the papers are for another person. However, there are restrictions the process server must follow if they deliver the papers to another person.

Process Servers Must Obey the Law

A process server cannot break the law to serve papers. Therefore, they cannot break into someone’s property to serve papers. 

A process server can ring your doorbell to attempt service. They can wait outside of your home for you to come out if they are not trespassing.

Process servers cannot use force or physically compel someone to accept papers. If so, they could be charged with assault or another crime.

What Should I Do if I Am Served With Family Court Documents or Divorce Papers in Douglasville, GA?

You may or may not expect to be served with divorce papers, motions, or other legal documents related to a family court case. Even if you are expecting the papers, read the entire document carefully so that you understand what is happening. It is essential to know why you are being served with papers so that you know what to do.

Regardless of the situation, it is important to contact an experienced Douglasville family law attorney as soon as possible. You may only have days to respond to the legal documents. If you do not respond by the deadline, the court could enter a default judgment for the other party. 

An attorney explains your legal options and your rights regarding the subject. The family court for Douglasville handles many different matters, including but not limited to, the following:

A family law attorney can also help you resolve the matter through negotiations and mediation instead of costly litigation. However, if you cannot negotiate a settlement with the other party, your attorney is prepared to argue the case in court. 

Legal documents can be very confusing. It is better to talk with a Douglasville family law attorney about the documents you received than to guess what they mean. Ignoring documents served on you could have significant consequences for you and your family. 

Contact the Georgia Family Law Firm of Bardley McKnight Law Divorce Lawyers for Help Today

For more information, please contact Bardley McKnight Law Divorce Lawyers to schedule a confidential consultation with a divorce lawyer in Douglasville today.

We proudly serve Douglas County and its surrounding areas:

Law Firm of Bardley McKnight Law Divorce Lawyers Offices
12461 Veterans Memorial Hwy, Suite 470
Douglasville, GA 30134

(470) 308-5409

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