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    What Exactly Can a Process Server Do to Serve Papers?

    What Exactly Can a Process Server Do to Serve Papers?

    When legal matters are at stake, process servers step into the spotlight.

    These unsung heroes play a crucial role in ensuring that legal documents reach their intended recipients. Whether it’s serving divorce papers, subpoenas, or eviction notices, process servers follow a well-defined set of methods to deliver these critical documents.

    In this article, we’ll explore the strategies that every process server in Melbourne or any other city can use and the challenges they face.

    Personal Delivery

    One of the most common methods used by process servers is personal delivery. In this method, the server physically hands the legal documents to the individual named in the case. This direct approach guarantees that the person receives the papers personally. The process server must verify the identity of the recipient to ensure the documents are delivered to the correct person.

    Substitute Service

    When the individual cannot be found at their residence or workplace, process servers may use a substitute service. This involves leaving the documents with a responsible person at the defendant’s home or workplace, such as a family member or coworker. Additionally, the process server typically mails a copy of the documents to the defendant’s address.

    Posting on the Door

    In certain cases, especially in eviction proceedings, process servers may post the documents on the door of the defendant’s residence. This method is used when other attempts to deliver the papers have failed. After posting the documents, the server usually mails a copy to the defendant’s address. This ensures that the defendant is notified about the legal action even if personal delivery was not possible.

    Service by Mail

    Service by mail is another method process servers use. The server sends the documents using certified mail, requiring a return receipt. The recipient must sign upon receiving the documents, which serves as proof of delivery. This method is convenient and provides a record of service, but it may not be accepted in all legal situations. It is often used when the law allows for it or when other methods are not feasible.

    Service by Publication

    When all other methods fail, courts may permit service by publication. This involves publishing a notice in a local newspaper to inform the defendant about the legal proceedings. This method is typically a last resort when the defendant cannot be located despite diligent efforts. Although less direct, it provides a legal means to notify the defendant of the pending case.

    Challenges Faced by Process Servers

    Process servers often face significant challenges in their work. One major challenge is dealing with individuals who actively evade being served. Some people go to great lengths to avoid receiving legal documents, making the process server’s job difficult. Additionally, process servers sometimes encounter hostile or aggressive behavior from defendants who are unhappy about being served. This can pose safety risks and require the server to manage confrontational situations carefully.

    In addition, process servers must take into account confidentiality issues, ensuring respect for the privacy of the individual while fulfilling their legal duties. Compliance with specific legal requirements and deadlines adds another layer of complexity to their work.


    Process servers are vital to the legal system, providing citizens with the necessary legal documents. They employ various methods, including personal delivery, substitute service, posting on the door, service by mail, and service by publication. Each method has its specific applications and helps ensure the legal process proceeds smoothly.

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