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What Kind of Papers Does a Process Server Serve?

what kind papers does process server serve

Process servers play a crucial part in the legal system because their primary responsibility is to serve court documents such as:

  • Writs
  • Subpoenas
  • Complaints
  • Summons
  • Divorce papers
  • Eviction notices
  • Restraining orders
  • Small claims
  • Statutory demands
  • Bankruptcy petitions
  • Freezing orders
  • Prohibited steps orders
  • Contact orders

In this article, we will delve into the various types of papers served by process servers, shedding light on the importance of each document. We will explore the essential role these legal documents play in upholding the rule of law and ensuring that all parties receive proper notice, providing a fair legal process for all involved.


A writ is a formal order issued by a court commanding the recipient to perform or refrain from performing a specified action. The purpose of writs is to enforce legal rights, compel government officials to fulfill their duties or ensure adherence to due process in judicial proceedings. There are several types of writs, which include but are not limited to:

  • Writ of Mandate – This writ compels a public agency to perform an essential duty.
  • Writ of Habeas Corpus – This writ directs authorities to maintain an individual in custody and demonstrate the legality of their detention.
  • Writ of Attachment – This writ seizes a debtor’s property to secure the payment of a debt.
  • Writ of Execution – This writ enforces a judgment, typically by seizing the debtor’s property to satisfy the judgment.

Upon receiving a writ, it is imperative to seek legal counsel promptly. An attorney can evaluate the writ, determine the appropriate response, and ensure compliance with procedural requirements. Potential responses include filing a motion to quash, petitioning for a stay, or submitting a response addressing the merits of the writ.


A subpoena is a legal document issued by a court. Its purpose is to compel an individual to provide testimony or produce documents. Subpoenas serve to ensure the availability of crucial information during legal proceedings. There are three types of subpoenas:

  • Subpoena Ad Testificandum – Requires an individual to provide oral testimony at a deposition.
  • Subpoena Duces Tecum – Directs an individual to produce documents or other tangible evidence.
  • Deposition Subpoena – Combines aspects of the first two types, requiring an individual to testify and produce documents during a deposition.

Upon receipt of a subpoena, consulting an attorney is advisable to ensure proper handling. Timely compliance is crucial to avoid penalties. In some cases, it may be appropriate to negotiate with the issuing party, file a motion to quash, or modify the subpoena.


A complaint is a formal legal document used to initiate a civil lawsuit. It outlines the plaintiff’s claims against the defendant(s). The primary purpose of a complaint is to notify the defendant(s) of the allegations against them, provide a factual basis for the claims, and establish the court’s jurisdiction over the dispute. A complaint usually consists of four components:

  • Caption – This section identifies the court, the parties involved in the lawsuit, and the case number.
  • Jurisdiction – This component establishes the court’s authority to hear the case and the appropriate location for the legal proceedings.
  • Allegations – In this section, the plaintiff sets forth the factual basis for each claim against the defendant(s). This component outlines the specific facts, circumstances, and events that led to the legal dispute.
  • Relief – The final component specifies the remedies the plaintiff is seeking. These remedies could include damages, injunctive relief, or declaratory relief.

After filing the complaint with the court, the plaintiff must serve the defendants with a copy of the complaint and fill out an affidavit of service. The defendants must then file an answer, responding to the allegations and asserting any affirmative defenses. Alternatively, they may file a motion to dismiss, challenging the complaint’s legal sufficiency. Adherence to the specified deadlines for responding to a complaint is crucial. Failure to do so may result in a default judgment against the defendant(s).


A summons is a legal document issued by a court, notifying a defendant of a pending lawsuit and requiring them to respond within a specified time frame. The primary purpose of a summons is to inform the defendant of the legal action, thereby ensuring due process.

Upon receipt of a summons, the defendant must file a timely response with the court, typically in the form of an answer or a motion to dismiss. The response should address the allegations in the complaint and may include any affirmative defenses. Failure to respond within the specified time may result in a default judgment against the defendant.

Divorce papers

Divorce papers are essential legal documents that initiate the process of ending a marriage. The price to serve divorce documents depends on the experience of the process server and the complexity of the case. Different divorce papers also need to be filed with the court. These include:

  • Petition for Dissolution of Marriage – The initiating spouse files this document. It contains information that outlines the grounds for divorce, the division of marital assets, child custody obligations, and spousal support demands.
  • Summons – The court issues a summons to notify the other spouse of the divorce action and their obligation to respond.
  • Response to Petition for Dissolution of Marriage – The responding spouse files this document, either agreeing or disputing the matters raised in the petition.

The process of responding to divorce papers requires specific steps to be taken. First, the initiating spouse files the petition with the family law court and serves the documents on the other spouse. Subsequently, the responding spouse has a specified time to file a response addressing the allegations.

If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the court may schedule a hearing to resolve contested issues. It is essential to understand that the process of divorce can be emotionally challenging. Seeking the assistance of a qualified family law attorney can help you navigate the process with greater understanding.

Eviction Notices

An eviction notice is a document that a landlord serves to a tenant to indicate an intention to terminate their rental agreement due to violating the lease terms. The primary purpose of this notice is to inform the tenant of the alleged breach and provide an opportunity to rectify the situation. There are different types of eviction notices, including:

  • 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit – This notice requires the tenant to pay overdue rent within three days or vacate the property.
  • 3-Day Notice to Perform Covenants or Quit – This notice informs the tenant of a lease violation, providing three days to remedy the breach or leave the property.
  • 30 and 60-Day Notice to Quit – This notice terminates a month-to-month tenancy with a thirty-day notice for tenancies less than one year or a sixty-day notice for tenancies exceeding one year.

To issue an eviction notice, the landlord must follow the law while serving the notice to the tenant. After receiving the notice, the tenant can either comply or contest the eviction by remaining on the premises. If the tenant does not vacate, the landlord may file an unlawful detainer action in court to seek a formal eviction order.

In this process, the tenant has the right to respond to the unlawful detainer action and present their defense in court. If the court rules in favor of the landlord, a writ of possession will be issued, authorizing the local sheriff to enforce the eviction.

Restraining Orders

A restraining order is a court-issued legal directive requiring an individual to refrain from specific actions, typically involving proximity to another person. Restraining orders aim to protect individuals from harassment, abuse, or threats of violence by creating a legally enforceable barrier between the parties.

A lawyer must file a request with the court to obtain a restraining order, providing evidence of the alleged behavior warranting protection. If the court finds sufficient cause, a temporary restraining order may be issued pending a formal hearing. At the hearing, both parties have the opportunity to present their case. The court will then determine whether to issue a permanent restraining order. The restrained party may contest the order by providing evidence to refute the allegations.

Small Claims Documents

Small claims documents are legal forms necessary for disputes heard in small claims court. In California, small claims courts handle civil cases involving monetary claims up to $10,000, providing a cost-effective way for individuals to settle minor disputes.

The process of filing small claims court documents is relatively straightforward. To initiate a small claims action, the plaintiff must file the Plaintiff’s Claim form with the appropriate court and serve the defendant with a copy. The defendant may then file a response, including counterclaims, before the scheduled hearing.

Both parties are required to attend the hearing, where they present their case to the judge. The judge’s decision is typically rendered at the end of the hearing. With small claims courts, the process is generally quicker than traditional court proceedings, making it a popular choice for individuals looking to resolve minor disputes efficiently.

Statutory Demands

A statutory demand is a formal written notice commonly issued by a creditor to a debtor. Its primary purpose is to demand payment of a specific debt within a particular timeframe. These demands are typically used in the context of involuntary bankruptcy proceedings. They serve as a precursor to a bankruptcy petition if the debtor fails to meet the demand.

To issue a statutory demand, the creditor must prepare a written notice that includes details about the debt, the payment deadline, and a warning about potential bankruptcy proceedings. The demand must be appropriately served on the debtor. Once the debtor receives a statutory demand, they have a limited time to either pay the debt, negotiate a payment plan with the creditor, or challenge the demand in court.

If the debtor fails to take appropriate action within the specified time frame, the creditor may initiate involuntary bankruptcy proceedings against the debtor. Therefore, debtors must take statutory demands seriously and respond promptly to avoid potential bankruptcy proceedings.

Bankruptcy Petitions

A bankruptcy petition is a legal document that is filed with a court to start bankruptcy proceedings. It is used to request relief from excessive debt, allowing individuals to restructure their financial obligations, sell assets, or have certain debts discharged under court supervision. The most common types of bankruptcy petitions include the following:

  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy – A liquidation bankruptcy that applies to individuals and businesses. In this process, non-exempt assets are sold to repay creditors.
  • Chapter 11 bankruptcy – A reorganization bankruptcy for businesses and certain individuals, allowing for the restructuring of debts while continuing operations.
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy – An adjustment of debts for individuals with regular income. It involves a court-approved repayment plan that enables the debtor to pay off their debts over a specified period.

The debtor must file a bankruptcy petition with the relevant court to file for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy schedules detail the debtor’s assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. Creditors are notified of the filing to participate in creditor meetings. Interested parties may object to the discharge of debts or challenge the debtor’s proposed repayment plan.

Freezing Orders

A freezing order is a legal tool that can be used to preserve assets and prevent their disposal during a legal dispute. It may also be called an asset preservation order or a Mareva injunction. The main objective of a freezing order is to ensure that the assets remain available for enforcement of a judgment once it is obtained.

To obtain a freezing order, the applicant must show a strong case on the merits, a risk of asset dissipation, and the need for urgent relief. This application is typically made without notifying the respondent. If the court grants the order, the respondent will be served with the order to contest it.

Contesting a freezing order involves challenging the applicant’s claims or demonstrating the absence of a risk of dissipation. The respondent must provide evidence to support their position. If successful, the freezing order will be lifted, and the respondent can handle the assets. If unsuccessful, the freezing order will remain in place until the dispute is resolved.

Prohibited Steps Orders

A prohibited steps order is a type of court order used in family law cases to prevent a parent from taking certain actions regarding their child without the court’s approval. These orders are put in place to protect the child’s well-being.

To obtain a prohibited steps order, the parent must file an application with the family court and demonstrate the necessity to protect the child’s welfare. The court will evaluate the potential impact of the proposed restrictions on the respondent’s parental rights.

If the court grants the order, the respondent may contest the decision by filing an application to discharge the order. The respondent must provide evidence to demonstrate that the restrictions are unnecessary.

Contact Orders

A contact order is a legal document that governs the arrangements for a non-custodial parent’s contact with their child in family law cases. Its primary objective is to ensure the child maintains a meaningful relationship with both parents while balancing their welfare.

The interested parent must file an application with the family court to obtain a contact order that details the proposed contact arrangements. The court will consider several factors, such as the child’s needs, the parents’ capacity to cooperate, and any risk of harm. The parties will have an opportunity to present their case at a hearing.

If the court grants the contact order, the respondent may contest it by filing an application to change it. To successfully challenge the order, the respondent must provide evidence demonstrating that the existing arrangements are not in the child’s best interests.