For a court to take action in a dispute, the law requires that all parties be notified or served -- given a copy of the papers announcing the court's intention -- by a neutral third party within a specified period of time. An affidavit of service is the proof given to the court that this has been done.
Definition and Elements
An affidavit is a written or printed statement freely and voluntarily given and sworn to in front of a person authorized to witness oaths, most often a notary public. An affidavit of service states when, where and how the service was accomplished and includes a description of the party served, so there can be no doubt about identity.
Different states and court jurisdictions may have different forms they prefer as affidavits of service, and these are usually provided when the notices to be served are issued. Personal service is always the method of choice and is required when at all possible. The affidavit of service must be signed and sworn to by the person who actually served the notice.
In many localities, law enforcement agents will act as process servers for a fee or will be able to recommend a professional process server. In either case, the affidavit will be taken care of. Notary services can be found at town halls and courthouses, as well as at most banks, law firms and insurance companies. A small fee may be charged.