Do Divorce & Legal Papers Have to be Served in Person?

Whether you are a movie actress or an accountant, legal documents are often served in person.

Actress Olivia Wilde was on stage talking about her upcoming movie in front of an audience of 4,000 at CinemaCon in Las Vegas. In the middle of her presentation, an unidentified woman handed Wilde an envelope from the front of the stage. After joking that maybe it was a script, she opened the envelope, surveyed its contents, and remarked simply that she understood. She continued with her presentation.

We later learn that the envelope supposedly contained documents related to the custody of the two children she shares with her former partner, actor Jason Sudeikis.

Sudeikis, who was in London filming, had said he had no idea she would be served in such a public manner. We don’t know whether that is true, but it certainly wouldn’t be the first time someone was served publicly.

A process server personally delivering documents is the most effective way to know that the person received the information. Considering the way celebrities must travel for their work, it is understandable that the server might look to where the person is scheduled to be and show up there. We are not involved in this case and aren’t aware of its details.

One thing is certain: Divorce, child custody, and other important notices must be delivered according to proper procedures.

Improperly serving papers jeopardizes the case, adding unnecessary delay and expense. Our team at the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., ensures that all legal documents related to your family law case are served properly and efficiently.

Legal Documents Can Be Served Anywhere

The rules for custody and visitation cases in New York Family Court require that the petition and a summons be personally delivered to the other party.

In New York, legal papers can be served basically anywhere. They can be served at someone’s work, on a walk around the block, at lunch with friends, or just about anywhere else. Papers cannot be served on Sunday. Service cannot also be conducted on Saturday if that’s the receiver’s day of religious observance.

Legal documents must be served by someone other than the party initiating the action. Papers are often delivered by law enforcement or process servers. The rules vary on the type of case and whether the service is the notice of the initial legal action or service of subsequent papers.

The person who served the papers must fill out an affidavit of service, which is sworn to and signed in front of a notary. The affidavit details the date, place, time, and how the papers were served. In a matrimonial case, the server must also explain how he or she knew that the person served was the named defendant.

Process Servers Are Licensed

Process servers in New York City’s five boroughs are required to be licensed by the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs to do business in the city. Individual process servers must pay a surety bond of $10,000. Service agencies must pay a $100,000 surety bond to cover their team.

A license or license renewal requires process servers to pass a test on relevant laws and legislation. If the process server is an attorney admitted to practice in New York State, they do not need a license.

Process servers in the boroughs must track their serves using GPS technology to capture the GPS location of the person they are serving. Servers are required to maintain computerized records of their serves. These service of process rules do not necessarily apply outside of NYC.

Savvy Legal Counsel for New York Family Law Cases

Our 75-plus years of experience in family law offers clients a breadth of knowledge and insight not available at all firms. Our pragmatic and decisive approach helps our clients move through their legal issues and get back to what matters most.

Our legal team is here to help clients with such family law issues as contested divorce and enforcement of court orders. Learn more in a phone or video consultation. Contact us online or by calling (845) 605-4330.

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