California boasts nearly 40 million residents, making it the United States’ most populous state. Thus, it’s only natural that the state  should possess the largest court system in the country. 

Statistics from the Judicial Branch of California show that the legal system of California alone serves almost 12% of the nation’s populace. This feat is possible thanks to the over 500 court buildings present across the state’s 58 counties.

In recent years, there has been a steady increase in civil, marital, and criminal lawsuits in California, the home of Hollywood.  Though that isn’t surprising, it’s pretty problematic, due to the fiascos that come with show business and entertainment. Most lawsuits, especially civil cases, seek over $25,000 in damages.

Before starting a civil lawsuit in California, there’s a need to perform a lawful process serving. Failure to follow these standards may lead to avoidable delays and hiccups in the trial process; sometimes, it can shut down a lawsuit completely. If you don’t  know how to serve a process; you aren’t alone.

This article discusses “process serving in California” and why it’s necessary to carry it out using a professional server.

What Is Process Serving?

The law forbids anyone from suing another without their notice, and it’s morally unfair. It also prevents the other party from successfully representing themselves in court proceedings. Hence, process serving is one of the necessary legal processes in California and the US.

Another name for process service is service of process, a procedure that aims to give notice of commencing legal action to another party, usually the defendant, to enable the party to present themselves for court or tribunal proceedings. This notice features the delivery of certain documents that describe the legal action to the person of interest by professional process servers. The attorney can hire an Illinois process server to deliver legal documents to the respondent in a timely and professional manner.

Complaints, subpoenas, summons, and writs, etcetera, are some of the documents that comprise a process serving. These documents must get to the other party through an entity not part of the case. It’s worthy to note that service of process laws varies from state to state. However, our concern in this article is “process serving in California” 

Service of Process in California

According to the California Code of Civil Procedure, certain people can perform the duties of a process server. They include friends, relatives, county sheriffs, coworkers, and professional process servers. 

However, a few more restrictions apply to the service of process in California, and they’re as follows:

  • Selected process server must be no less than 18 years old
  • The process server should have no involvement in the case
  • Professional process servers must follow the state’s Business and Professions Code guidelines

What Is the Duty of a Process Server?

A process server is a trained professional that delivers legal documents informing individuals or organizations about court or tribunal cases where they’re defendants. Though their role seems simple, it’s crucial to the success of any litigation or trial process. Little wonder they don’t participate in the cases themselves.

It’s their job to provide the appropriate documents according to the California process serving laws to the party in question. They also document the entire serving process for court presentation if need be. As the guidelines differ per state, it’s necessary to hire someone with knowledge of the process server rules of California as a California resident.

It’s impossible to declare that you wish to sue a party or an organization without following due process. The law requires that you hire a process server to inform the party you want to sue after successfully filing a complaint against them. When your complaint reaches the court, it issues a summons that outlines the complaint and doubles as a formal notice to the defendant.

If a lawsuit has the names of more than one defendant, then each one of them is to receive service of process on the condition that they are 18 years and above. Where  the lawsuit names an organization, county, state, or any other non-human entity, the process serving occurs through an agent representing the entity in question.

Types of Process Serving in California

There are different ways of serving court papers in California. The nature of the case and a few underlying circumstances determine the best way to serve processes. Some of them include:

  • Personal Service

Personal service is inarguably the best means of serving process as it leaves no room for doubt regarding the delivery of the documents. It’s valid in all types of cases and is usually a requirement for delivering the first documents.

This format of process serving is just as the name suggests – the process server personally visits the defendant(s) to hand in the service documents. The serving can occur at any location; at the person’s home, workplace, or a public area. However, the server needs to notify the person of the meeting before serving the documents.

If the party receiving the process refuses to accept the documents and walks away, the court will still consider it a valid service of process. The above holds because the process server drafts a proof of service document detailing the delivery circumstances, and this document must receive court approval through signing and filing.

  • Service by Mail

Hand delivery may seem inappropriate or impossible in some situations, and the need to explore other options arises. If that’s the case, the process server can send the documents by mail, provided it’s within the permits of the law.

As with personal service, the process server must complete the proof of service document and present it for filing in court. Usually, after five days of mailing the documents, the service is declared complete. However, service by mail is less favorable as it’s difficult to ascertain if the defendant truly got the documents.

  • Service by Substitute

Service by substitute occurs when all efforts to reach the defendant personally are unproductive, especially after three attempts. The process server then delivers the documents via a substitute who bears the responsibility of providing the documents safely to the defendant. 

Laws of process serving in California state that the substitute should be 18 years and above and must reside in the defendant’s home or be a person of authority in the defendant’s workplace.


Finding a good process server may be tricky, especially if you live in an area with numerous legal practices. To pick the best out of them, seek recommendations from friends or family members.  Also visit to learn more. Good luck.