Citation and Service of Process in Texas
What is service of citation?
When you file your Petition at the clerk’s office, the clerk may ask you about citation. should issue citation. This is sometimes called “service of citation” or “service of process.” They are used interchangeably. Service of process means you give the other party legal notice that you have filed a lawsuit against them.
- What is “service of citation”? It is legal notice to the other side that you have filed your case. It is not enough to tell the person on the other side that you have filed the case. You must follow the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and show the court that you have given legal notice.
- Waiver of citation. You do not have to give legal notice if the person on the other side agrees to sign a form called a Waiver of Citation in front of a notary. The form must not be signed until after the Petition is filed at the clerk’s office. TexasLawHelp has a video that might help. There are Waiver of Service forms for many different types of cases.
- Issuance of citation. Another way to give legal notice is to have the clerk issue a citation. There is a small fee for issuing the citation unless you obtain a waiver of the fees based on your Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs.
- Delivery of citation. You may request service of process with the request of citation. The citation and petition can be delivered through a constable. There is a fee for this service too – approximately $75. If you opt not to request service, you have to choose an authorized process server. The server will deliver your Original petition and citation to the other party. If you cannot afford the court and service fees, you may obtain a waiver of the fees. However, this is based on your Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs. Finally, you cannot deliver the citation.
- Other ways to give legal notice.
- Service by mail. You can ask the clerk to mail the citation and petition to the person on the other side by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested. If the person on the other side does not sign the return receipt or if another person signs it, then there is no legal notice. If the person on the other side is an inmate, you may not use service by mail. You must use personal service by a process server.
- Service by publication or posting. What if you cannot find the other party? You can serve through publication. In other words, you may be able to serve the other party with notice of the suit by publishing legal notice in a newspaper. You will have to prove that you have tried hard to find the other person. When you choose to serve by publication, the judge may have to appoint a lawyer to represent the ‘missing’ party. Also, you may be responsible for the attorney’s fees.
For divorce suit, if you cannot find your spouse (the other party), you may ask for service by posting at the courthouse. This applies, especially if you do not have any children or much property, you may be able to use service by posting at the courthouse. To get information and forms for service by publication and service by posting, ask the court clerk.
- Return of citation. When the person on the other side has been served by the process server, the process server will complete a Return of Citation that lets the judge know how and when the person on the other side was served. Then, file the Return of Citation in the clerk’s office with the rest of the papers in the case file. The process server may also file the return of citation.