Service of Process Law and Legal Definition

Service of process is the legal term for the delivery of copies of legal documents such as summons, complaints, subpoenae, orders to show cause, writs, notices to quit the premises and certain other documents. Delivery is usually made by personal delivery to the defendant or other person to whom the documents are directed. "Substituted service" can be made by leaving the documents with an adult resident of a home, with an employee with management duties at a business office or with a designated "agent for acceptance of service" (usually identified by a filing with the state's Secretary of State), or, in some cases, by posting in a prominent place followed by mailing copies by certified mail to the opposing party. In certain cases of absent or unknown defendants, the court will allow service by publication in a newspaper. After service, the original document, along with the "return of service" proving the same were served, is filed with the court to show that each party was served. In order to expedite the legal process, parties may often sign a waiver of notice of service so that the other party doesn't have to comply with the legal formalities of service and proof of service.