Serving Documents | Superior Court of California – County of San Diego

What does “deliver papers” mean?

  • The legal service of documents to another person is an official service of documents. the documents must be “served” on anyone else who is involved in the lawsuit or who is required by law to obtain the documents.
  • This lets the person(s) in the case know what you are telling the court and what you are asking the court to do.
  • If the papers are not served correctly at the correct time, the court cannot proceed with the case.
  • a person is notified when they officially receive documents.
  • documents that initiate an action (summons, petition, request for warrant, etc.) must be filed first and then served on the Other person(s).
  • After the papers are served, the person who served the papers must complete and sign a proof of service form. the proof of service form must be filed with the court.

Who can deliver documents?

  • Do not serve the papers yourself!
  • Anyone who is at least 18 years old and not involved in the case can serve the papers. the person who served the papers will need to fill out a proof of service form indicating what they served (delivered) to the other parties.
  • there is a small chance that the person who served the papers will have to appear at the court and tell how you served the papers.
  • Choose someone to serve the papers who can complete the form.
  • There are companies that serve the papers for you as part of their business. these companies charge money to serve the documents.
  • the sheriff’s office will serve the documents for you. the sheriff’s office collects money unless the court waives the fee.
    • In a domestic violence case, the sheriff will serve the restraining orders to start the case and the order as well, free of charge.
    • Proof of service will be filed by the sheriff’s office by you and give you a copy of the form.
    • A law enforcement officer can issue a domestic violence restraining order, called an emergency protection order, to prevent domestic violence when it is not possible for the alleged victim to get to court right away. the peace officer delivers the documents to the other party at that time.

    How are the papers delivered?

    Documents may be delivered in one of the following ways, depending on the circumstances or the type of documents to be delivered:

    1. personal service requires that the documents be delivered by hand to the person.
      • Documents may be hand-delivered to that person’s attorney, or the attorney’s secretary, during business hours, if that attorney has already appeared” in the case.
      • usually an attorney has “appeared” if he/she went to court in the case or filed papers in the case.
      • personal service is the form required to serve certain papers.
      • required personal service for all documents that start a case.
      • a person is notified as soon as the documents are served.
      • For substituted service, copies of documents are left at the place of residence (domicile) or usual place of business of the person to be served.
      • documents must be left with a person who is at least 18 years old. the person receiving the documents must live in the same household or be the person in charge at the place of business.
      • the person receiving the documents must know what the documents are about and who they are for.
      • Do not drop off the papers yourself.
      • After you drop off the papers, the person serving the papers must also mail a copy of the papers to the party to whom the legal service will be made. , at the same address where the papers were left.
      • Do not mail the papers yourself.
      • Copies should be sent by first class mail, with sufficient postage (stamps) for the envelope to be delivered to you.
      • The party is deemed to have been served ten days after the copies are mailed.
      • The person being effort to serve the party in person must write a due diligence statement (under oath) to file with the court.
      • the due diligence statement must state, in detail, what efforts you made to serve the the party in person.
      • This statement must be submitted along with proof of service also signed by the person who served the papers.
      • The person serving the documents places the documents to be served in an envelope, addressed to the party to be served, and sends them by first class mail.
      • do not mail documents yourself.
      • The person mailing the documents also includes a copy of the proof of service form. the proof of service form will be complete except for the signature.
      • mail service of all documents is permitted if the party served lives outside of california.
      • in these circumstances, the mailing must be by registered or certified mail and must have the return receipt request form attached and completed.
      • the signed return receipt request form must be submitted with the court along with the form indicating how the documents were served. (Proof of Service).
      • If the party to be served is not in California, the party will be served by mail ten days after the documents are mailed.
      • note : In practice it is better for the person to be served personally even outside of California. if the party to be served by mail does not sign the requested acknowledgment, you do not have good service.

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