Service is a very important and integral element of Court proceedings. This is the process of informing the respondent (i.e. your former partner) that you have commenced Court proceedings, providing them with a copy of the documents you have filed in Court and informing them of the next Court date. Both the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court Rules have extensive provisions relating to service of documents and how this is to occur.
When Court proceedings are commenced the Rules generally require the respondent is to be personally served. Personal service on the respondent occurs when a person, other than the applicant, takes the documents to the respondent personally. This can be done by any adult, but most commonly it is done by a professional process server. If the respondent refuses to accept the documents the process server will usually leave the documents in the presence of the respondent whilst briefly notifying the respondent of the nature of the documents served.
Service is usually a straightforward process in most cases. However, in some circumstances, service can get complicated if the respondent’s whereabouts are unknown or the respondent knowingly dodges service. This can also create significant delays in the case as the case cannot effectively proceed without the other’s party’s participation and/or knowledge.
If personal service on the respondent cannot be effected, a Court will need to make order for personal service to be dispensed with and for service to be affected through an alternate form.
Alternate means of effecting service include:
What if you do not know the respondent’s whereabouts?
This complicates the service process even further. If you are not aware of the respondent’s whereabouts then you will first be required to carry out a number of investigations to locate the respondent. There are numerous possible investigations, and what might be appropriate will depend on the circumstances of your case.
Effecting service needs to be handled efficiently and with skill to identify likely issues at an early stage. All of the lawyers at Sarah Bevan Family Lawyers deal with serving parties on a daily basis.