What is service and why is it important?
Service is the process of informing a person that a legal action has been brought against them. Service is the delivery of the Plaintiff’s initial pleadings to the Defendant. The pleadings are the official documents that open a new court case. Service is also required when an old case is being reopened. The party reopening the case has an obligation to serve the opposing party.
As the Plaintiff in a case, you have an obligation to serve the Defendant in accordance with the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure, specifically Rule 4. As the Defendant, you have the right to be served in accordance with the Civil Rules.
If the Court finds that service was not perfected (meaning service was not done in accordance with the Civil Rules), the case cannot be heard. The Court will require the Plaintiff to continue trying to serve the Defendant until the Court finds service was perfected.
Service is done by the Clerk of Courts. A set of Instructions must be filed with the Plaintiff’s initial paperwork detailing the name and address of the Defendant, as well as the chosen method of service. The Clerk of Courts will then serve the Defendant according to the Instructions.
The three most common methods of service are Certified Mail, Personal Service, and Regular Mail. Certified Mail is the most common method because a return with the recipient’s signature comes back to the Clerk of Courts, and gets filed in the case. The return tells the Court who signed for the mail, making it easier for the Court to determine whether service has been perfected. The cost for Certified Mail is added to the court costs in the case, which must be paid after the case is closed.
Personal Service is service done by sheriff who hand-delivers the pleadings to the Defendant. This method also makes it easier for the Court to determine whether service has been perfected because a return is provided and filed. Personal Service carries an additional $50 fee, which must be paid at the time of filing.
Regular Mail service is another option. Regular Mail service is sent like any other mail, and is delivered by the postal service. Initial paperwork opening a new case or reopening an old case cannot be served by Regular Mail. This method provides no return for the Court to verify service has been perfected, and returned mail can take up to 8 weeks to receive. Regular mail service is available after a case has already been opened or reopened. Motions and other documents can be served on the parties or parties’ attorneys via regular mail in an ongoing case. There is no additional charge up-front for Regular Mail service.

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1. What types of cases are handled by the Domestic Relations Court?
2. Where is the Court located?
3. Where can I get copies of my court papers?
4. How can I find out my hearing date?
5. I can’t come to court on the assigned hearing date. How do I get a new date?
6. Can I file my own court papers? If so, how?
7. Why can’t I talk to the Judge or Magistrate?
8. What should I do if I moved or plan to move?
9. How do I get a transcript of a hearing?
10. What is mediation?
11. What is service and why is it important?
12. Do I need an attorney?
13. Who should I contact for a referral to an attorney?
14. What if I can't afford an attorney?