If a process server delivers papers in the woods and no one hears it, did it really happen? Not without an airtight Affidavit of Service.
An Affidavit of Service – also known as a Declaration or Proof of Service – is part of every service of process. It’s necessary to document the steps that your process server took to find the defendant. It’s required by courts as evidence of proper service.
Done right, it ties up legal steps with a lovely bow.
Done wrong, and you’re back at square one with dismissed cases or even legal action in cases of fraudulent affidavits.
What makes up an Affidavit of Service?
An Affidavit of Service is created once your papers have been served to the defendant. It will contain the following information (typically):
- Name of the case and the case number
- A description of the documents that were served
- Any relevant details from the service
- The server’s name, contact information, and signature
- The individual served
- The time, date, and location of service
- A statement that the server is over 18 and not a party to the case
Affidavits of Service are also required if a process service can’t effectuate service. In those cases, they’ll submit an Affidavit of Service along with a signed declaration that they’ve made good faith attempts at personal service. If there’s a later court challenge, this demonstrates that good faith efforts to deliver the papers. It also is what will help convince a judge to approve a request for alternate service.
Thoroughness pays off
While those bullet points might look like an easy checklist to cover, it’s not as simple as that. Putting together a good Affidavit of Service requires gathering ALL the information from the service. It’s important to make sure the process server you’re using is keeping accurate – and thorough – records. That includes:
- Documenting everything
- Keeping extensive record
- Retaining emails, texts, and notes from phone calls
- Keeping records of when the first contact is made and note all attempted contact.
- Making sure to keep notes of phone calls or other efforts to demonstrate due diligence.
- Additional documentation such as validated parking ticket to show attempted service
Combined, they show that your server isn’t just signing a proof of service based on personal knowledge but based on facts.
Thoroughness also requires knowing the state laws surrounding the Affidavits of Service. An experienced server will be familiar with the requirements across the country and how they impact service of process and the Affidavit of Service.
What happens next?
After the Affidavit of Service has been created, it may need to be notarized before being submitted to the courts. (This will depend on your jurisdiction.)
When your Affidavit is ready to be submitted to the court, make sure to double-check everything! Inaccurate or false affidavits carry a penalty of perjury, although your process server should be the one with the final review as to accuracy. If you find an error, don’t take the risk – it’s better to start over than take a chance on legal action.
Process servers have to be careful to do their jobs in an orderly and documented manner. They have to know the differences in what is permissible on a state-by-state basis. There are a lot of judgment calls.
That’s why hiring experienced process servers is essential when you want to be sure this part of your legal process is being handled correctly. To learn more about how DGR puts together their Affidavits of Service, contact us today.