Serving Papers In A Georgia Family Law Case – 4 Things You Need To Know
To initiate any lawsuit in Georgia, the person initiating the lawsuit must properly serve the other party with the complaint. Here are 4 things you need to know about the process for serving papers in a family law case in Georgia:
- Acknowledgment of Service: The easiest way to properly serve the other party in family law litigation is to have the other party sign what is called an “Acknowledgement of Service.” This document essentially says that the other party agrees he or she has been served, and that having a third party serve the documents on him or her is unnecessary. If your family law proceeding is amicable, this is the most cost-effective way to initiate your case. The Acknowledgment of Service must be signed by the other party and filed into your case to be valid.
- You Can’t Do It Yourself: If your litigation is not amicable and/or the other party is not willing to accept service, you must have him or her formally served. This must be done through a neutral third party who is an authorized process server in Georgia – if you, a family member, or your attorney simply hand the documents to the opposing party, he or she has not been properly served and you run the risk of having the case dismissed for improper service. The opposing party is not a part of the lawsuit, nor do they have any obligation to the court, until he or she is properly served.
- It Isn’t Always Like the Movies: There are two groups of people who can properly serve the opposing party: (1) Sheriffs or (2) Private Process Servers. There are benefits to each and the attorneys at Buckhead Family Law can help you assess which group is better for your case. Sheriffs may be more intimidating to your opposing party which may encourage them to accept the papers. However, Sheriffs are busy and may not be as diligent about making multiple attempts of service. Private Process Servers, on the other hand, require a higher fee than sheriffs, but will attempt service as often and during whatever hours as you are willing to pay them. Either way, service of the opposing party does not have to be a dramatic and theatrical event like we see in the movies. Most often, service can be perfected by serving someone leaving or arriving at their home or place of business. That being said, if you want your private process server to show up at the opposing party’s house posing as a pizza delivery person, that can be arranged as well!
- Don’t Avoid if You Are the One Being Served: If you are the party being served, don’t avoid service. This will only get you started off on the wrong foot with the court and the other party, and can make litigation more difficult than it needs to be. At the end of the litigation, you could be responsible for the other party’s attorney’s fees and costs of litigation if you are making things more difficult than they need to be.
An experienced family law attorney such as those at Buckhead Family Law can help you to navigate this process and ensure that you know all of your options when serving papers in Georgia. Give us a call today and keep life moving forward.