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How to Legally Serve the Other Party in Your Family Law Case

If you are thinking of filing a lawsuit in Texas, you will most likely need to serve that lawsuit on your opponent.

Serving someone personally with a lawsuit means delivering the legal documents related to the lawsuit directly to the individual named as the respondent. This process is necessary to ensure that the individual is officially notified of the legal action being taken against them and to uphold their constitutional right to due process. Personal service plays a critical role in the legal system by providing notice and an opportunity for the respondent to respond to the allegations.

Here's an overview of how to serve someone personally with a lawsuit:

  • Identify the Correct Individual: Ensure that you have accurate information regarding the person to be served. This includes their full name, current address, and any additional identifying details that can help ensure proper identification.
  • Understand the Requirements: Familiarize yourself with the specific requirements for personal service in the jurisdiction where the lawsuit is being filed. Each jurisdiction may have its own rules and procedures regarding how personal service should be carried out.
  • Hire a Professional Process Server: It is often recommended to hire a professional process server who is experienced in serving legal documents. Process servers are trained in the proper methods of personal service and are knowledgeable about the legal requirements.
  • File the Necessary Documents: Prepare the necessary legal documents, including the petition and request for citation and precept or any other relevant pleadings required by the court. Ensure that these documents are properly prepared and contain all the relevant information before filing so there is no delay in your case.
  • Provide the Documents to the Process Server: Hand over the legal documents to the process server, who will be responsible for personally serving them to the respondent. Provide the process server with all relevant details, including the respondent's address and any special instructions or considerations.
  • Follow Legal Guidelines for Personal Service: The process server will follow the legal guidelines for personal service. This typically involves physically delivering the documents directly to the respondent. Depending on the jurisdiction, this may require handing the documents directly to the respondent or leaving them in their presence if they refuse to accept them.
  • Document the Service: The process server will document the details of the service, including the date, time, location, and method of service. This documentation, called a return or proof of service, is crucial as proof that proper service was carried out.
  • File the Proof of Service: Once the personal service is completed, the process server will provide you with a proof of service document or affidavit, which states that the respondent has been served. File this proof of service with the court to ensure that the service is officially recorded.

Why is personal service necessary?

In Texas, specifically in family law cases, you cannot get a final order without at least attempting to find the other party to attempt service. Once you have exhausted all means of trying to serve the other party, there are a few remedies you have in pushing your case forward without personal service such as a Motion for Publication or serving via social media.

Personal service is necessary for a few different and important reasons listed below:

  • Notice: Personal service ensures that the respondent receives actual notice of the legal action against them, allowing them the opportunity to respond and defend themselves in court. This upholds the principle of due process.
  • Jurisdiction: Personal service establishes the court's jurisdiction over the respondent. It ensures that the court has authority over the individual and can proceed with the case.
  • Fairness and Transparency: Personal service promotes fairness and transparency in the legal system by ensuring that all parties have equal access to the information and proceedings of the lawsuit.
  • Binding Effect: Proper service is necessary for the court's judgments or orders to have a binding effect on the respondent. Without proper service, a court may not have jurisdiction, and any subsequent rulings may be invalidated.


It's important to note that the specific rules and requirements for personal service may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the lawsuit. It is advisable to consult with an attorney or legal professional to ensure compliance with the applicable laws and procedures in your specific case.