Understanding Legal Service Of Process

Private Process Service

When Private Process Service is Acceptable

Private process service can be used either when ten (10) days have passed and sheriff's service has been unsuccessful or, in certain cases, when the service needs to be "expedited," or accomplished more quickly than the sheriff can do so. 

Sheriff's Service Unsuccessful

In most cases, the sheriff or constable will be able to complete the service process on a party at the home or work address provided by the other party. However, when the sheriff attempts service and is unsuccessful, a document called a "service return" will be filed with the Court. The service return will state that the sheriff has been unable to make service after repeated attempts.

When such a return is filed, or when the sheriff has not made service within ten (10) days after the sheriff received process of service instructions, a party can ask the Court to appoint a process server (also called a private process server).

Expedited Service in Summary Proceedings

In some cases, called summary proceedings, a party may have the other party served a process server without the sheriff first attempting to make service and the potential ten (10) day delay. These kinds of cases include child custodychild supportspousal supportinjunctions, and use of property. Summary proceedings are usually processed by the Court more quickly than other kinds of cases.

Good Cause

In order to have a process server appointed without the sheriff first attempting to make service, the party asking the Court to appoint a process server must show "good cause." One example of good cause is that an emergency hearing is required. Generally, emergency hearings are those held within fifteen (15) days of the filing date. 

Good cause may also be shown when the party to be served does not have a permanent physical address in Louisiana and the party asking for a process server has personal knowledge of the current whereabouts or location of the party to be served. For example, if the party to be served will be in Louisiana for a short period of time and you know the address where they will be located during that time, a process server would be able to go to the location at the time the party is there and accomplish service. 

To obtain an order appointing a private process server, a party must submit an affidavit swearing to the reasons why service should not be attempted by the sheriff and facts sufficient to establish "good cause." It is best to speak with an attorney if you believe you need to have a process server appointed by the Court. 

What's Needed to Use the Private Process Sevice Method

The party requesting the appointment of a process server must have knowledge of the address of the party to be served. In addition, a party asking the Court to appoint process server may select the person to be appointed, but the selected person must be:

  1. over the age of majority (18 years of age),

  2. a resident of the state of Louisiana, and

  3. not a party to the lawsuit.

Any person who is a Louisiana licensed private investigator is presumed to be qualified to perform the duties required of a process server. The party requesting the services of the process server is responsible for any costs. The private process server is required to submit an Affidavit of Service stating how (domiciliary or personal) and when (date and time) the service of process was made on the party served.

The party making the motion to appoint process server is responsible for arranging the service through the private process server. This involves sending the private process server the citation and certified copy of the petition that needs to be served. Licensed process servers may have their own affidavit of service. The process server will return the affidavit of service to the petitioner, and the petitioner is required to file this affidavit into the suit record.

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