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If you need to serve a defendant out of state, it is important to properly serve legal documents. It is possible that the defendant moved, or you — the party pursuing the legal action — moved. Or maybe the parties have always been in different states. The question to be addressed is how to have the defendant, whether an individual or a corporation, served. This scenario happens more often than you would think. Many process servers estimate that up to a quarter of their business originates from out of state, according to research. While it is true that serving a defendant in another state takes more work than doing so in state, it is routinely done.

 

Before You File the Lawsuit

 

Before even filing the lawsuit, make sure that service can be lawfully attempted out of state.

Some areas of the law, such as real estate and car accident cases, allow servers to serve the defendant(s) that are not residing in the state in which the lawsuit was filed.
Not all areas of the law allow for this and, as a result, you and your attorney may have to file the lawsuit in the state where that person or entity resides.

It is also key to understand that each state has its own laws and procedures regarding civil process service regulations.

You will need to determine what rules apply to your lawsuit when you are faced with finding a server to carry out service upon a defendant who lives in another state. Some counties and states across the nation, like Kansas, may require a process server to obtain permission from a governing body or the sheriff’s office prior to serving the legal papers while others, like Wisconsin, may not. Moreover, other states or counties may require that service attempts be made via certified mail prior to using a process server. There also may be other specific rules governing when and how service is attempted; in some states, listed below, service cannot be attempted on holidays or Sundays.

  • No service on Sundays: Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Virginia;
  • No service on Holidays: Minnesota
  • No service on Sundays except with Court order: Tennessee; and
  • Certain restrictions on Sunday service, depending on the documents: Texas.
More specifics regarding the process of service in particular states can be found at each state’s Rules of Civil Procedure.

It is also important to investigate whether personal service is required, if service can be made on a substitute party, or if the documents can be posted. Some states and counties require documents be filed electronically or the original stamped documents must be filed with the court. In addition to these general rules, there are several courts that have particular documents relating to the process of service that must be used.

We Can Help

 

At Ancillary Legal, we can help you with your out-of-state service of process needs. We have the experience and get the job done right. Contact us today for an initial consultation.