What Does "Return of Process" Mean in Family Court?

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Service of Process

In some states, you can ask an acquaintance to deliver your papers for you -- you just can't do so yourself. Other states allow you to give them to the other party if he signs a voluntary acknowledgment of service. Or, you may be able to send the papers to him by certified mail or have the county sheriff or a private process server deliver them for you. The important thing is that the other party to your case receives a copy in a way that's permissible under your state's laws.

Providing Proof to the Court

After the other party receives your papers, you must let the court know that you achieved service. You can file the certified mail receipt or the acknowledgment of service if your spouse voluntarily accepted the papers from you. If you use the sheriff or a private process server, these individuals typically sign an affidavit stating that they personally gave the papers to the specified party. You can then file this document with the court.


About the Author

Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years. She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues.

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