Home > criminal law, divorce, family law general, law general > Civil Procedure in Divorce/Child Custody Part 1: Certificates of Service

Civil Procedure in Divorce/Child Custody Part 1: Certificates of Service

In any court proceeding, there are rules regarding how and what you have to do–the Rules of the game, if you will.  The point of the Rules is to make sure everyone is given their constitutionally guaranteed due process rights  under the law.  The other party must be “served”–initially either by the sheriff, a private process server, another adult who is NOT involved in the court case, or via certified mail.  “Serving” the other side after that just requires that you (regular) mail or hand deliver the document to the other side.  You don’t have to have a process server deliver every document to opposing party–just the initial petition/complaint.

Any court proceeding that has parties in opposition to each other requires that certificates of service are included with each filing.  This is not just a family law thing.  A certificate of service is included generally on the last page of any pleading, and it usually says something like this:

Certificate of service sample

A Certificate of Mailing is the same thing as the Certificate of Service…just depends on what you want to call it. This one would be for Initial Disclosures, but you’d fill in whatever the document’s title is.

“I certify that on the (nth) day of (month), (year), I delivered a true and correct copy of the foregoing document via (hand delivery/US Mail/carrier pigeon, etc.) to the following individuals:

(name and address of person who you sent it to)

(Your signature)”

If you’re representing yourself in your court case, on the day that you are going to mail or hand deliver the document to the other side, fill out the certificate of service first, and then make 2 copies of the document.  The original document is filed with the court.  One copy is sent to the other party, and you keep one for your own files. Always keep a copy of everything you file with the court–that way you have a record of it that you can refer to yourself.

You can serve the other party by emailing the documents to him/her if he/she says that he/she will accept that as service.  You would initially email him/her and ask if they agree to accept service via email, and keep the response he/she sends back stating that they agree to that.  If the other party agrees to accepting service via email, you’ll only need to keep a copy for yourself and send the original to the court–just email a scanned copy of the filing to the other side, and keep the email you send, showing that you DID in fact send it.

The point behind all this is to tell the court, in a sworn court document, that you told the other side what you told the court.  Talking to the court without telling your opponent what you said is called ex parte communication with the judge, and it’s illegal.  Everyone is entitled to notice of ALL communication with the court in any legal case…That’s the whole due process thing.  If you don’t know what’s been filed, you have no way of responding to it.  Failing to respond affects your rights.  A lot.  Which is why if you don’t send the other side a copy of everything you file with the court, the court won’t act on your filing.  It’s as though you haven’t filed it yet.  Which stalls your case.  Nobody wants that.  Save yourself time and energy and do it right the first time.Do It Right the First Time



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