Simple Steps to “Serving” the Other Party

Simple Steps to “Serving” the Other Party

“Service” is the technical name for the other party receiving from you the documents that you have filed. Arizona courts require one party to show proof that the other person was served. In today’s legal world, service does not have to be done with a process server. Instead, you can simply mail the documents to the other party, if applicable (as outlined below).

The Other Party Lives In or Out of the State of Arizona and You Know Where He or She Lives or Works

Most likely, your spouse also lives in Arizona. If this is the case, you can serve the other party as outlined below. The service methods are listed here from least to most expensive.

Option 1: Hand-delivery and an Acceptance of Service form

If you and your spouse are amicable, hand-delivery is a good option. This means that you can give the other party all six (6) or eight (8) documents (all of the documents you filed except for the Summons). If you use this method, you do not send the original Summons that you received from the court clerk when you initially filed your documents. At the same time you give the other party the papers, you should also give them an Acceptance of Service form to fill out. This form must be signed by the receiving party either in front of a notary or the court clerk. If the receiving party signs the documents in front of a notary, you should file their acceptance of service with the court after making a copy for  your records.

Do not use hand-delivery and an acceptance of service form if you are a victim of domestic violence or you believe that you or your children are in danger. If this is the case, use another method of service. It is best to err on the side of being safe.

Option 2: Mail or Other Delivery Service Requiring Signature Confirmation

This option requires that you send all of your documents using certified mail, restricted delivery. The “restricted delivery” entails a minor fee, but ensures that the deliverer confirms that he or she is delivering personally to your spouse. When you receive this green card back in the mail, you will file this with your mailing receipt after making a copy of it for your records. This form is located online at: It looks like this:

Option 3: Service by a Registered Process Server

When people think of service, they generally think of a process server doing the job. With this method, you hire a process server to physically deliver those documents to your spouse. You will need to give the process server specific information as to where he or she can find your spouse. Process servers generally charge for the number of attempts it take to find your spouse. It is best to be as specific as possible and provide the process server a picture, so that he or she can identify your spouse. After the process server serves the documents on your spouse, the process server will file an affidavit of service with the court.

Option 4: Service by the Sheriff

This is usually not the most efficient way to serve the other party. First, a deposit of $200.00 is required for this method. You may ask the Sheriff’s Office for a deferral or waiver of these fees. To ask the Sheriff’s Office to serve your documents, you will need to fill out two (2) forms. (Both forms are on the Maricopa Superior Court website). If you live in Maricopa County and want to serve the papers in Maricopa County, you can bring the documents to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Civil Unit, 201 West Jefferson Street, First Floor, Central Court Building, Phoenix, Arizona 85003. Their telephone number is (602) 876-1840.

What if I have No Idea Where the Other Party Lives?

You qualify under this section of service if the following has been completed:

  1. You have filed a petition with the accompanying documents, AND
  2. You do not know where the other party is, AND
  3. You have tried all reasonable ways to find your spouse, including:
    • Mailed by certified mail to the spouse’s last known address
    • You have attempted to contact your spouse’s family, friends and neighbors to retrieve an address
    • You have contacted your spouse’s place of employment
    • You have done additional research, such as reviewing the phone book, online directories, voter registration information; and
    • Considered hiring a professional detective or paid an online service attempt location for your spouse
  4. You are ready to testify under oath that you have tried all of these methods.
Next: The Response

If your spouse/partner filed the action against you, you must file a responsive pleading. You have a time limit, so make sure you know what it is. If you were served in the state of Arizona, you have 20 days to respond, if you are out of state, you have 30 days. Your response should...

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