OAC 340:25-3-3(c) and (d)
OAC 340:25-3-3: ITS 1(a)
43 O.S. § 112A
12 O.S. § 2004(C)(2)
12 O.S. § 2004(C)(2)(c)
12 O.S. § 2004(C)(1)(c)
Service by personal delivery, referred to as personal service, is the most costly method and should only be used if service by other methods is unsuccessful or inappropriate, such as when case history indicates a low probability of acceptance of service by certified mail, or the court requires personal service. OAC 340:25-3-3(a).
Due to budget constraints each CSS office has a limitation on how many cases can be referred for personal service. The percentage of cases that an office can refer for personal service is based upon each office’s rate of referral from previous years; consequently, the rate varies for each office. The CSS Center for Finance and Budget monitors personal service and periodically reports referral rates and other information to the CSS district offices.
Personal service is done by delivering the document to the person to be served or by leaving the document at his or her residence, with a person who is fifteen (15) years of age or older who resides there. 12 O.S. § 2004(C)(1)(c).
If the document is left with someone other than the person to be served, it is referred to as “substitute service.” If the document to be served is a contempt pleading or other action that may lead to loss of liberty, some judges will not allow substitute service. If you know the judge will not accept substitute service, notify the process server that substitute service will not be acceptable. The caseworker should consult the state’s attorney if there is a question about what kind of service is required. Consult the state’s attorney about service requirements if the person to be served is less than fifteen (15) years of age.
CSS contracts with a vendor for both in-state and out-of-state service of process. Most offices use the CSS contract vendor. The CSS Center for Operations maintains contact information for the service of process vendor. The current vendor requires staff to use an online customer service portal to send documents to be served and provide service information to the vendor. See also the CS Quest article, Tips to Facilitate a Successful Service of Process and the InfoNet page Service of Process Method by County & EZ Messenger Training.
For instructions on how to use the service of process vendor’s online customer service portal, check the Service of Process Information channel on Teams.
In addition to private process servers, some offices use the local sheriff or other law enforcement to serve process. Also, some DA offices have investigators on staff that can serve process. CSS offices operated by private providers have contracts with individual servers. When not using the CSS service of process vendor, staff mails or delivers the documents to be served or schedules pick up by the private process service server or law enforcement.
It is vital to provide valid and up-to-date information to prevent a delay in service. If using the CSS service of process vendor, documents and information are provided via the online customer service portal. If the documents are not going to be served by the CSS vendor using the online method, staff uses an Investigator Sheet to provide information for service of process.
Staff verifies the address and employer information of the person to be served prior to sending the documents for personal service. If serving the NCP, review the file for a current CP Additional Locate Information form (L07) which includes personal information about the NCP.
Helpful information about the person to be served includes: employer, work schedule, vehicle description, physical description, and any other identifying information to aid the process server in identifying and locating the party (e.g. details to assist in finding the location, licenses the individual holds, social media account information, notes, etc.). If necessary, contact the other party for more information. Staff includes a picture of the person being served if one is available from the other party, the case file, jail log, social media, or other source.
In addition to information about the person to be served, staff lists hearing details (date, time and location), the date when the service documents need to be returned to ensure proper notice under the applicable statute.
The number of days’ notice that is required varies for specific actions, so if unsure, staff consults the State’s Attorney. Staff specify if the documents must be delivered to the party, or if they can be left at the party’s address with someone (15) years of age or older who lives there (substitute service).
Review the Return/Affidavit of Service to make sure that all documents described in the affidavit are included in the service packet. If the service documents are not returned on or before the desired date, contact the process server for an update.
If using the CSS service of process vendor, documents and information are provided via the online customer service portal. If the documents are not going to be served by the CSS vendor using the online method, staff uses an Investigator Sheet to provide information for service of process. There are three investigator sheets to choose from in OSIS depending on whom to serve:
- G04 – Investigator Sheet-Service To AP
- G04CP – Investigator Sheet-Service To CP
- G04U – Investigator Sheet-Service To AP (user-input)
Staff updates the NCP’s information on the APPU screen in OSIS and the CP’s information on CPPU in OSIS before printing the Investigator Sheet. Staff places the pleadings in a sealed envelope and paperclips the Investigator Sheet and the Return/Affidavit of Service to the envelope.
If a party resides in another state, staff tries to serve the party using methods other than personal service, if feasible. However, if other methods of service are not appropriate or prove unsuccessful, CSS may use the contract vendor to serve parties in another state. Allow sufficient time of at least 90 days for out-of-state personal service.
Staff follows up on all service referrals. Common methods include setting a reminder in Outlook or by creating an Excel spreadsheet of service referrals. Staff notifies the Managing Attorney (MA) or Office Manager (OM) if problems arise with CSS service by the service of process vendor. The MA or OM should send an email explaining the problem(s) to CSS Investigations.Operations.