Serving Papers (Service of Process)

Make sure that you serve papers correctly!                                                                                           
If you don't, the court could dismiss your case.                                                                                         

 

What is Service?

"Serving papers" means delivering a copy of the papers you file with the court to the other parties in your case. You have to do this for almost all the papers you file with the court.

How you must deliver these papers depends on where you are at in your case.

This page can help you understand service for most types of cases. There might be different requirements if you are serving someone who is a respondent in an adoption case, or a defendant in an eviction case. Contact the Self-Help Center or see our page on Finding Legal Help if you aren't sure about how to have your papers served.

 

Special Requirements - Contempt or Jail Time (Bench Warrants)

If you are asking for the court to find someone in contempt, or are asking for jail time in a Motion to Enforce Order, you will usually need to use Personal Service. This includes Supplemental Orders and civil bench warrants.

 

Serving the Complaint or Petition (or serving a Motion to Enforce) to start a case

When you are starting a case or filing a Motion to Enforce Order, you must have the other parties in your case served personally or by mail, unless they accept service. If you are starting a new case (including a petition to modify), make sure you include a summons with the papers to be served.

Alternative service (sometimes called publication) is only allowed if you have looked for the other party and haven't been able to find them.

Personal Service

In personal service, papers are handed personally to the defendant or respondent.

You can't serve the papers in your own case. Papers can be served by a sheriff, a constable, a U.S. Marshal, or by any person 18 or older who is: 

If you can't find someone who meets these requirements, you can hire someone. This could be a local sheriff or a private company. If you want to hire a company, try searching the internet for "process servers."

Whoever serves the papers needs to fill out a Proof of Service. You will then need to file the Proof of Service. See the Forms section below to find the right one for your case.

If the defendant or respondent can't be found to be served personally, the papers can be given to an adult who lives in the defendant's or respondent's home. If the defendant or respondent is a company, the papers can be given to the company's manager or the person in charge of the office.

Utah Code §78B-8-302Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d)(1)

Service by Mail

You can mail your papers to the other party using the U.S. Postal Service or a commercial courier service like FedEx or UPS. You must send the papers in a way that requires the respondent to sign for the delivery. The defendant or respondent must for the delivery - no one else can sign.

Once you get the defendant or respondent's signature for delivery, fill out a Proof of Service and file it along with the signature. You will then need to file the Proof of Service. See the Forms section below to find the right one for your case.

Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d)(2)

Acceptance of Service

You can always ask the defendant or respondent to accept service. If they agree, you don't have to follow the requirements above - you can just give them the court papers by any method you both agree to use.

The defendant or respondent must sign the Acceptance of Service and file it with the court. See the Forms section below to find the right one for your case. The defendant or respondent must also send you a copy of the Acceptance of Service. 

If the defendant or respondent won't sign the Acceptance of Service, you must have them served personally or mail, as explained above. 

An Acceptance of Service only acknowledges receipt of the Complaint or Petition and Summons. If the defendant or respondent signs it, they are not waiving any other rights, defenses or objections they might have. Once they sign the form, the defendant or respondent has 21 days (if served in the state of Utah; 30 days if served outside the state of Utah) from the date they sign the Acceptance of Service to answer the Complaint or Petition.

Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d)(3)

Stipulation (Agreement) Instead of Service

In divorce and custody cases, the Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) will produce a document called a Stipulation. This is a legal word that means agreement. You can use this if you and the respondent agree about all of the terms of the case - even before you have the respondent served. If you both agree from the start of the case, then service isn't required. 

A respondent who doesn't not agree with all the statements in the stipulation shouldn't sign the stipulation.

You can use a a stipulation at any time in the case if you and the respondent agree about how to finish your case.

 

Alternative Service

If you can't find the defendant or respondent to have them served, or you believe that they are trying to avoid service, you can ask the court for permission to use alternative service.

You have to make a good effort to find them first (this is sometimes called "reasonable diligence"). See our Finding People for Service of Process page for information about ways to try to find someone.

If you still can't find the defendant or respondent, you can ask the court for permission to use "alternative service."

For information about the process and forms, see our Alternative Service page.

Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d)(5)

 

Service in States Other Than Utah

You can serve someone outside of Utah the same way as someone in Utah. If you need to serve a summons with your papers, be sure to use the Out-of-State summons. 

Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4

 

Service in Foreign Countries

Serving someone outside the United States can be difficult. You might want to contact a lawyer for help. See our Finding Legal Help page for more information. 

Someone outside the United States can be served by "any internationally agreed means reasonably calculated to give notice, such as ... the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents."

  • If there is no internationally agreed means, Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d)(3)(B) describes other acceptable methods.
  • All papers must be translated into the official language of the foreign country, and must be served along with the English version.

The Hague Convention generally provides for service of process through a request submitted on form USM-94, U.S. Marshals Service. The Convention also permits service of process by international registered mail.

Countries may object to service by international registered mail, and many have. Service by registered mail should not be used in these countries.

  • Argentina
  • Bulgaria
  • China
  • Czech Republic
  • Egypt
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Kuwait
  • Lithuania
  • Mexico
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Russian Federation
  • San Marino
  • Slovak Republic
  • Sri Lanka
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • Venezuela

More information about service of process abroad is also available on the Department of State website. The full text of the Convention is also available on that website.

If you are involved in a divorce or custody case with someone who is or may be in Mexico, please see our Service of Divorce/Custody Papers in Mexico page. For all other types of cases, please see the Department of State's Service of Process page.

Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4(d)(4)

Serving Someone on Active Military Duty

Serving someone on active military duty, especially if they are not in the United States, can be difficult. Consider contacting a lawyer for help.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) allows those on active military duty to postpone or suspend certain civil judicial proceedings. 50 U.S.C. App. §501 - §596. The SCRA also provides protection in the areas of financial management such as rental agreements, security deposits, eviction, installment contracts, credit card interest rates, mortgages, and income tax payments.

Some case types require verification that you have checked to see whether the opposing party in your case is on active military duty. Use the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act website at https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/scra/ to determine if someone is on active military duty.

 

Service of Other Papers (after a case is started)

Service is usually more relaxed after the summons and complaint or petition have been served. Everything filed with the court and every order or judgment must be served under Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 5.

Who must be served

The papers must be served on:

How the papers can be served

These papers can be served by:

  • Mailing them to the last known address provided.
  • Handing them to the person.
  • Emailing them to the most recent email address provided.
  • Leaving them at the person's office with a person in charge or in a receptacle meant for deliveries.
  • Leaving them at the person's home with a person of suitable age and discretion who lives there.

Service by mail or email is complete when sent.

You complete a Certificate of Service or Proof of Service form that describes how and when you served the papers. Most court forms have this as the last page of the form. If you need on for your own papers, you can find it in the Forms section of this page.

There are some situations in which you may want to follow the requirements for serving someone using one of the methods required for serving a complaint or petition. For example, you may serve the judgment debtor with a notice to attend a hearing to identify property by mail or email or any other service methods for serving other papers. However, if the debtor does not attend the hearing and you want to ask the court to issue an arrest warrant to force attendance, you must have served by personal service.

 

Finding People for Service of Process

 

Forms

The forms you need depend on your case. What is your case about?

 

  • 1020FA
    Used to prove a party was properly served following the requirements of Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4.
  • 1021FA
    Used to prove a party was properly served following the requirements of Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 5.
  • 1022FA
    See description above for information about when this form is used.
  • 1049XX
    Used to provide law enforcement with information that may help them serve someone.

  • Consent to Email Service and Notification (Juvenile Court) - PDF | Word

  • 1020GE
    Used to prove a party was properly served following the requirements of Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 4.
  • 1021GE
    Used to prove a party was properly served following the requirements of Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 5.
  • 1022GE
    See description above for information about when this form is used.
  • 1049XX
    Used to provide law enforcement with information that may help them serve someone.