The beginning of almost every divorce or family law matter culminates in one party serving the other party the pleadings in the case. Certainly in some cases, one party might opt to waive service and not be served. But in most cases, that is simply not the case.
Service takes place after the case has been filed and the court puts together a summons to go with the pleadings. If the parties do not request a special (or private) process server, the pleadings are going to be given to the sheriff. The sheriff is employed by the county in which the case takes place. The sheriff in many instances can obtain service.
However, some parties opt to use a special (or private) process server instead. In other words, when they file the case, they request that the summons be returned to them for service by a special process server instead of the sheriff.
Some might ask why a party would opt for a special process server versus the sheriff in a divorce or family law matter? The reality is that the sheriff can often obtain service. But in cases where service will need to take place at a particular time and date, and in cases where a party is dodging service, a special process server can be particularly helpful.
The reason for this is that sheriffs oftentimes have lots of papers that they need to serve. While they usually do an admirable job, there can often be a backup in terms of the papers they have to serve. The sheriff is often generally paid a salary. They are generally not incentivized to obtain service quickly. The sheriff also does not typically work after-hours.
On the other hand, a special process server is privately employed. They generally get paid for obtaining service. Versus working Monday through Friday 9 am to 5 pm, special process servers often work after hours.
Special process servers can also often be given a picture of the person they wish to serve. Many special process servers are also willing to go to a particular place at a particular date and time. They might even stake out a location to obtain service. The reason is they generally get paid by the hour or after service has been obtained. This gives them a greater incentive to obtain service.
Parties can also directly communicate with the special process server to help give them information helpful to service. While some sheriffs might be willing to engage in a conversation about service, the reality is that this is often harder and more difficult. Many special process servers often are private investigators. Thus, they might be able to serve in a dual investigative and service role.
Take cases as well where subpoenas need to be served for a deposition or a trial in a short order. A special process server can often be key in making sure that service is obtained quickly and expeditiously. Many summons can also expire after 30-days days. This is where the special process service can often help to obtain service before the summons expires.
It is true that a special process server can often cost more than the sheriff. But the reality is that it is often worth the cost when going through divorce or family law litigation.