Should process servers list sex or chosen gender of person being served in their Return of Service?
Updated: May 9
Process servers should strive to treat all individuals with respect and sensitivity, and to be mindful of their gender identity and preferences when interacting with them. However, the return of service is a permanent record of the service of process, and a detailed description of the person being served can provide valuable documentation for future reference or legal proceedings and this may sometimes conflict with the gender identity of the person who was served.
In Florida, it is not required to list the gender/sex of the person being served but it is still a good idea to list it in the notes of the return of service. Listing the description of the person being served helps to establish that the correct individual was served, which is essential for legal compliance. Listing the sex of the person serves also provides clarity and specificity about their identity, which can be useful in situations where there may be multiple individuals with the same name or where the person being served has changed their name or appearance. A detailed description can also help to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings about the identity of the person being served.
It also adds some protection against challenges of service. In some cases, the person being served may challenge the service of process, claiming that they were not properly served or that they did not receive the papers. A detailed description of the person who was served, including their sex, can provide additional evidence to support the validity of the service and to rebut any challenges.
If a person being served has indicated a preference for a specific gender or name, process servers should make a good-faith effort to accommodate that preference, to the extent that it is consistent with legal requirements and does not compromise the validity or effectiveness of the service of process. Ultimately, the goal should be to comply with the legal requirements and obligations, while treating the person being served with dignity and respect. Including a description of the person being served in a return of service can help to ensure that the service of process is legally compliant, clear, specific, and well-documented, which can be beneficial for all parties involved.