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  • Writer's pictureSteve Navarrete

What to do when being served with papers.

Full disclosure, I am not an attorney. I am a process server and private investigator. After serving many thousands of summons and complaints since 1999 and being asked "What do I do now?" I thought I should write a blog post about it.

If you are being served with legal papers, it is important to take the matter seriously and respond appropriately. Read the papers thoroughly. Make sure you understand the nature of the legal action being taken against you and any deadlines you need to meet. Once served with a summons and complaint, you typically have a limited amount of time to respond so RESPOND IN A TIMELY MANNER. How to file an answer is typically listed on the summons. Make sure to meet the required deadlines. Failure to file an answer to a complaint timely may result in a default judgment against you. Failure to respond to a subpoena for records or a subpoena for deposition in lieu of a properly served subpoena also has its own set of consequences. Seek legal advice and consult an attorney to help you understand your rights and obligations, and to advise you on the best course of action.

Cooperate with the process server. It is important to be respectful and cooperative with the process server. They are not suing you, their role is to simply deliver the papers to you so there is no need to be upset with them. They are just doing their job. Make sure to keep a record of the date and time you were served, the name or process server number or the process server initials if that is all they are required to provide and any other relevant details. This may change at any point after this BLOG post but as of the date of this post, pursuant to § 48.29(6), Florida Statutes (2011), a certified process server must note on the “first page only of at least one of the processes served” those items provided in § 48.031(5):

(1) the date when it was served;

(2) the time when it was served;

(3) the Certified Process Server’s identification number (if applicable); and

(4) the Certified Process Server’s initials or signature.

Being served with legal papers can be a stressful and confusing experience, so it is always recommended to seek the guidance of a qualified attorney to help you navigate the process.

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