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How do I serve legal papers in Oregon?


How did we answer that? Service of process

A patron came in needing to serve someone with a civil lawsuit. However, they didn’t know the address or any other contact information. What other options did they have?

First, “service” or “service of process” is the legal term for delivering legal filings or documents to someone. The requirements for service are designed to make sure the person knows they are involved in the case and what is expected of them.

There are a few resources to help with questions about service. We started by pointing them to the Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure, which outline the process and options for service in civil suits. It’s important to note there are different rules for serving the summons (Rule 7 D) and other documents (Rule 9), among others. Check the rules carefully to determine which applies to your situation. Some types of proceedings may have service spelled out by statute (for example, ORS 419B.824 specifies the method of service in proceedings under ORS 419B.819, summons to establish permanent guardianship or terminate parental rights).

For family law cases specifically, there are additional resources online. On their Family Law Self-Help page the Oregon Courts’ have a two-part Guide to Service. This will explain the process to serve a party in family law matters. The Multnomah County Circuit Court also created a short video on How to Serve Legal Papers in Oregon, in partnership with MetroEast.

Some helpful books include the Nolo title Represent Yourself in Court: Prepare and Try a Winning Case, and Oregon State Bar publications (BarBooks), including Oregon Civil Pleading and Litigation and Family Law in Oregon. Nolo books are available at your local public library, and may be available along with BarBooks at your local county law library.

With the resources we provided, our patron was able to figure out a different way to serve the person.

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