Representing Yourself: What to do if the other party has not been served

Call the Clerk of Court's Office approximately one month after you have filed your papers. Give the Clerk your case number and ask politely if the other party has been served.

1. If the other party has been served, you do not need to do anything more. Your hearing will be held as scheduled.

2. If the other party has not been served, ask the Clerk the reason.

  • If the certified mail receipt has not been returned, check again with the Clerk in two to three weeks until you find out whether service was made.
  • If the certified mail receipt was returned showing service was refused or unclaimed, you need to file the Instructions for Service again. You will need to draft new Instructions for Service like the one you used the first time. This time, mark that service is to be made by "Regular Mail" not by Certified Mail. You must then take this new Instruction for Service back to the Clerk, along with a copy of the time-stamped papers you have filed before. Be sure to keep a copy for your records. Refile the new Instructions for Service. Wait about a month. Call the Clerk again to make sure that the clerk did send the papers by regular mail. If this was done, that is all you need to do. The hearing will be held as scheduled. If the clerk tells you that the papers did not get sent out regular mail, ask why and how to correct the problem.
  • If the certified mail receipt was returned for any other reason, such as "Addressee Unknown" or "Insufficient Address," you will need to find out the correct or new address where the person receives mail. Refile the Instructions for Service exactly as you did before, requesting certified mail.

3. If the other party has not been served by one week before the scheduled hearing, you must call the Clerk's Office to cancel the hearing. Ask to reschedule a new date and time. Once you have the new date and time, fill out a new Notice of Hearing and a new Instruction for Service by certified mail. File these at the Clerk's Office. Repeat the above steps to be sure that you get service before the new court date.

 

 

This article is meant to give you general information and not to give you specific legal advice.
Prepared by Community Legal Aid Services, Inc. Updated April 2012.

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