Inside the Mind of Our Process Server about “Being Served”
Written by: Tracy Augustin
I recently had the opportunity to do a quick interview with our Process Server. I thought I could get inside his mind as to what his job is like when he serves paperwork in family law matters. Here are some highlights of our interview:
Q: What are the top myths that people think are truth when trying to get out of being served?
A: A lot of people think that if they don’t touch the paperwork that they were not served.
Q: So that’s not true then?
A: No, not at all.
Q: So then, what does qualify as “being served” in Arizona?
A: The standard in Arizona is “notified and identified.”
Q: Can you explain what that means?
A: That the individual was notified that I am an Officer of the Court and that they are being served with paperwork. Obviously, I can’t put my hands on someone and make them take the paperwork from me, so “touching” the paperwork is not required.
Q: Do people actually try and avoid touching the paperwork?
A: All the time.
Q: How have you gotten around that?
A: Sometimes I have to put documents in their windshield wiper on their car, toss it in their car, and even drop it on the ground next to them.
Q: What other issues to do you come across when someone is trying to avoid service?
A: They try and claim that they are not the person.
Q: How do you rebut that, when they say are not the person?
A: Well, that’s when having a description or photograph of the person is vital. They don’t have to tell me who they are or admit to who they are, obviously, but, if I have a good description and/or photograph of them, I know it is them.
Q: After you serve someone, you file an Affidavit of Service, right?
Q: What type of information has to go in that Affidavit of Service?
A: I have to put the date/time/location of the serve, and describe who was served. I also have to list what documents were served on the individual.
Q: Where’s the best place to serve someone?
A: Well, actually, jail is the easiest place, because you know that person isn’t going anywhere. If it is family court case, it is best if the client knows for sure where they are going to be at a certain time specifically. Sometimes their place of work is good too, but it can depend on how accessible they are.
Q: Have you ever had to testify in court regarding a serve you have done?
A: Yes, on a few occasions. It doesn’t come up routinely though.
Q: When you do have to testify, what’s the nature of your testimony?
A: I typically have to testify to the Court when a party is contesting whether they were properly served.
Q: What’s the most helpful information a client can give you in order for you to do your job?
A: There’s a number of things, such as the individual’s description, schedule, and whether or not the person is going to try and avoid being served.
Q: If the party serving has little information to go on, can you still help them?
A: Yes, I can try and help, and sometimes even if service cannot be effectuated, it may mean that I have to file an affidavit of non-service to prove that the client has made an attempt to serve the individual personally.
Q: What are some methods you might suggest to gather more information about an individual that you are trying to serve?
A: Sometimes it helps to know what kind of car they drive, if they are married or have roommates, or if they have kids.
Q: Why can that information be helpful?
A: If there are other individuals living in the home, in most situations I can sub-serve the other individual on behalf of the party.
Q: What’s the magic age of individuals that you can sub-serve?
A: Actually, It’s tricky. There is no magic age per se. The law says that the individual has to be of suitable age. But, I can still sub-serve someone younger if their parent or legal guardian is home.
Q: Is there anything else that you might recommend if someone is having an issue effectuating service?
A: Depending on the case, I may recommend hiring a private investigator to gather information.
Q: When serving Family Court paperwork, have you ever been put in a dangerous situation?
A: I served a divorce and the guy got pretty upset and charged at me. I had to push him out of the way.
Q: Would you say that’s a typical reaction?
A: No, not at all.
Q: How do people typically react when they realize they are being served with Court documents?
A: More times than not, they are fine, and there is no harm or danger involved. Surprisingly, they don’t usually express anger at me. There are those few rare exceptions though.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about your job?
A: Satisfaction in helping my customers getting someone served, especially in situations when there is an order of protection involved and the person is genuinely in harm.