How To Serve Legal Documents to Out-Of-State†
So, you need to serve legal documents outside the state of California, huh?
Or maybe youíre in another state and need to serve someone here.
Either way, these things happen, but how do you go about finding and serving them legally without spending a ton of money?
There are a few options, but by far the most important thing to keep in mind is complying with the laws of each state involved.
Depending on the type of case youíre working with, you may be legally required to have a lawyer or process server registered in those states.
You can avoid the high costs for an attorney with reputable process servers with well-maintained networks of national referral partners.† Generally, a high-volume server sees between 10-20% of their workload originate or complete out of state and carefully builds relationships with referrals through experience and adherence to standards to help complete these serves.
One place process servers go to look for referral partners is the National Association of Professional Process Servers.† NAPPS acts as a sort of Better Business Bureau for the service of process industry and requires members to follow strict guidelines which in turn helps standardize process server actions and protect you and your paperwork from risky business standards.
If you need paperwork served out of state, you can search the NAPPS database for a registered server in either or both of the states involved.† While NAPPS does itsí best to vet members, you should always do a little extra research before handing your legal documents over to a stranger.
Some good places to serve legal documents:
- Their website
- Their reviews on Google, Yelp, etc.
- Their LinkedIn profile
Once youíre happy with what youíve seen, give them a call and see what they have to say.
More than likely, you can completely avoid the need for a lawyer and trust the process server to let you know otherwise.† If not, they should also be able to answer all your questions and let you know exactly what requirements and paperwork youíll need to furnish to comply with state laws.
You can also do some research on your own online and verify the requirements for each state and county.† You may even find it possible to just serve your documents by certified mail.† Unfortunately, this isnít typically an option, but at least youíll have an idea of what step to take next.
Though each case is different and each state has its own rules for serving legal documents, getting the job done is easy if youíre prepared.† Similarly to in-state service, nothing happens until there is a judgment.† Gather your information and file with the proper court to receive your summons and complaint papers.
Whether you choose a process server or not, youíll want to have as much information as possible about the person you need to serve.† Your court documents will likely have basic information, like their name and last known address, itís very helpful to know their physical description, work schedule, vehicle description and anything else that can establish their identity and routine.
Details of your case may also be relevant. If the person is known to be violent or have substance abuse problems, letting the process server know can help keep them safe and improve the chances of serving your papers on time.
If you decide to work with a process server, youíll need to give them your paperwork, including the appropriate service documents and the summons and complaint.† This is typically handled via email or online transfer for speed and safety, but can also be mailed or faxed.
A reputable civil process server will take care of the rest and provide you with proof of service upon completion.† Be sure to discuss your deadlines with your process server to improve your chances for successful delivery.