What does it mean to be served legally? Service of Process in Texas
Whether you were served with a custody paper or civil lawsuit, service must be perfected. Unless you waived service, the person who filed the lawsuit (plaintiff) must ‘serve’ you (the person being sued / defendant) with a copy of the lawsuit and citation.
This same rule apply to family lawsuits. However, the terms used are different.
Except the parents have agreed to the custody issue, the parents who initiates the case (petitioner) is required to serve the other parents (respondent) the custody papers. The petitioner can pay a private process server about $60 to $90 to serve the papers.
Citation is the notice that accompanies the petition or papers informing you that “you have been sued.”
According to the Texas Rule of Civil Procedure, there are several ways the petitioner can serve the respondent/defendant with citation and suit. You can be served by:
- A private process, sheriff, or constable, sheriff in person. You do not need to sign.
- Certified or registered mail (return receipt requested) by the court clerk, constable, sheriff or private process server. (This method is only valid if you sign the return receipt to prove that you received the letter.)
- Posting or publication if the petitioner can’t find you. This means the Citation will be posted at the courthouse or published in a newspaper.
- Any other way approved by the judge. For example, if the constable, sheriff or private process server is unable to serve you in person or by certified mail but can confirm your home address or work address; the judge could order that the Citation and Petition:
- posted to your door, or
- left with anyone over 16 at your home or work, or
- mailed to you at your home or work by regular mail.
After the initial service is perfected, the petitioner can mail or e-mail other documents to the defendant.
If you have been served with citation and petition, talk to one of our attorneys about representation.