When Can a Process Server Serve Papers Legally?
Short Answer: It Depends on the State
Process Servers must follow their own state’s statutes when serving documents. In some states (e.g. Florida), papers cannot be served on Sundays or holidays. In others (e.g. California), some papers cannot be served after a certain time of day (e.g. after 8:00pm).
Wisconsin, however, does not have any of these limitations. While weekends and holidays cannot be counted when computing the eight/five day time period for small claims actions, there are no statutes that state that service cannot be effectuated on those days. Thus, although holidays cannot be counted for determining the last day to serve, servers can attempt on them.
This means in Wisconsin you can be served any day of the year, even on holidays, and at any time of day.
It does not matter whether we’re attempting to serve child support papers, a divorce, foreclosure, subpoena or an other type of legal document. We can attempt service at any time of day or night if that’s what we think it will take to get the papers to you. The only limitation is getting the papers to you within a specified number of days before your court appearance.
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Why Do Process Servers Attempt to Serve You at Night?
We get it. You’re at home, it’s night and some stranger knocks on the door. It can be unsettling. So why do process servers attempt service at night? It’s not to annoy you, it’s actually to make sure you get the papers.
In many cases, the server has already been to your house multiple times during the day but was unable to make contact with you. It makes sense to try a bit later at night in case you have a long commute or work odd hours.
Remember, the server is trying to alert you to a serious legal proceeding and is helping you by delivering the papers.
If we neglected to attempt at night, we would be doing you a great disservice. Many judges will scrutinize an affidavit of non-service to make sure the server made an evening attempt. After all, it might be unjust to pass default judgment against you if the server was only at your house on weekdays between 10am and 4pm.
As for attempting too late at night, most servers do not attempt after 9:00pm, but there is no law stating that they cannot. Process servers are very good at their job and know what it takes to get the job done without undue irritation. We know we will not get a very positive response from ringing someone’s doorbell in the middle of the night.
How Late Have We Attempted Service?
Normally, we call it a day around 9:00pm. We have lives to live, too. In certain circumstances, though, we may make very late night attempts. For instance, we have had a serve take place as late as 2:45am. This was an odd situation where we had to serve the manager of a nightclub who never seemed to be home. Attempting after bar close made perfect sense in this situation and he had no problem with the time of service.
What Should You Do if a Process Server Is Trying to Serve You?
If you know you’re being served and don’t want to be served at night, give the process serving company on the case a call. We are very reasonable and will make arrangements to serve you at a mutually agreeable time. For more information, read our article on what to do when you are being served. Remember, ignoring the service will not make the matter go away. It is in your best interest to accept service.