After you have filed the appropriate paperwork the next step is to have your papers served on the other party. This lets the other party know that papers have been filed at the Courthouse to start the process. It also lets them know what is being asked for and how much time they have to respond. For your request to actually proceed, the Court will need proof that the other party was served with the petition. It is your responsibility to ensure that the other party receives a copy of your filings.
If you fail to obtain proper service the Court cannot proceed and this will delay your case until proper service can be shown. If you have a lawyer handling your case, he or she will probably take care of all this for you. If you are doing the paperwork yourself, here is a brief description on how to serve papers, and how proof of service is obtained:
- Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested: For a nominal fee, mail carrier will deliver the papers to the door and have the other party sign a detachable card. This “return receipt” is then mailed back to you after it is signed, and will serve as proof of service, as long as it is signed by the other party, and filed with the Clerk of the Court. The Clerk of the Court will send filings out Certified Mail, Signature Confirmation, and the fee to process this request is $6.00, per address.
- Personal Service By Sheriff: You can pay a fee to the Clerk of the Court for the Sheriff, to deliver your paperwork to the other party. A proof of service form will be filled out by the person serving the paperwork, which will then be filed with the court. Speak with the Clerk of Court regarding fees for this option. This service is only offered in the State of Indiana. Outside the State of Indiana, you would be required to contact that County’s Sheriff Department. You would be responsible for any fees associated with this service and you would need to file the proof of service paperwork with the Clerk of the Court.
- Personal Service By Private Process Server: You can hire a professional process server for a fee to deliver your paperwork to the other party. A proof of service form will be filled out by the person serving the paperwork. You will then need to file the proof of service paperwork with the court. The Clerk of Court’s office has a list posted of court-approved process servers.
- By Publication: When all other methods fail, the court may allow service to be made by publication. This involves announcing in the newspaper where the other party is likely living for a specific amount of time. Certain pleadings must be filed in the court in advance of serving a party by publication. Other restrictions also apply. This cost shall be paid directly to the publisher. You will need to return a copy of the newspaper notice, with a statement for how long the notice ran, to the court for filing in the appropriate case.
We suggest that you take a few minutes to review the Rules of Trial Procedure to better understand how to obtain proper service, as this is the most important step to ensuring there are no delays in your case.