Legally reviewed by:
King Law
February 14, 2024

A person is not subject to a court’s rulings in a legal matter until they have been properly served. The legal term “service” is the formal delivery of documents to an opposing party to ensure they are aware of the legal dispute involving them. You may be involved in a legal proceeding that keeps getting postponed due to failure of service. This is a frustrating dilemma, but the proper service of your opposing party is essential to justice and fairness.

Service in North Carolina may be given in a few ways. First, and usually favored, is personal service. Personal service is the physical transition of documents from person to person and is an accepted best practice. The simplest way to do this is to go to the Sheriff’s office and request they serve the opposing party once you’ve paid the applicable fee of $30 per person in state. If the Sheriff’s office is unable to serve the person, a process server may be hired to complete personal service. Process servers must be someone 21 years of age or older who is not a party and is not related by blood or marriage to either party. For example, your 40-year-old coworker may act as a process server but your 18-year-old child may not.

Secondly, service may be done via certified mail. By going to the post office and mailing a copy of your summons and complaint to the other party by registered or certified mail. This allows the service requirement to be satisfied by delivery to the other party at their home but there is a fee for doing it this way. Similarly, you are permitted to serve your opposition by delivery service (FedEx, UPS, etc.). The delivery must be to their home, and you must get a receipt of delivery.

Finally, as a last resort, you may serve the other party by what is called “service by publication”. This method is least favored because it has a low chance of notifying the opposing party of the full nature of the pending lawsuit. Before deciding to use this method, you must prove to the court that you tried everything you could to find the person and serve them by one of the previously mentioned strategies. When all else fails, you may publish a notice in the county newspaper where the other party was last known to live. This publication must be done once a week for three consecutive weeks. It can be very costly to publish in newspapers and it is extremely challenging to do correctly without an attorney’s help.

If the opposing party is hard to locate and therefore personal service has not been completed, you may notice the courts pushing your court date further away. Your impatience may suggest that proper service of your opposing party is not necessary to continue with the court process. This would be wrong. While potentially very aggravating, service guarantees fairness in the court system. Although it may take time, once service is completed, the court has authority over everyone involved and may make the best decision for everyone involved.

If you or someone you know is involved in or may become involved in a legal dispute, it is important to act quickly and seek legal assistance. At King Law Offices, we understand the sensitivity and complexity of these situations and are here to help. Our experienced attorneys can guide you through the service process and the rest of your legal issues. Contact King Law Offices today at (888)-748-KING (5464) for a consultation.

Legally reviewed by:
King Law
Carolina Attorneys
February 14, 2024

This blog post has been reviewed and verified by legal experts at King Law. Our team is dedicated to providing premium legal services with compassion, innovation, trust, and advocacy. Serving Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina, we offer flexible meeting options and strive to exceed client expectations with high-quality legal representation and exceptional client relationships.

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