Serve your Answer

Once you've completed the Answer, you must have a copy sent to the plaintiff or their lawyer. The court calls this service or serving papers. This means another adult, not you, mails a copy of your Answer.

Before you start 

Serving papers by mail means that another adult, not you, mails a copy of your Answer to each plaintiff. If the plaintiff has a lawyer, you must have it sent to them instead. The person doing the mailing is your server. Your server must sign a form saying they mailed the papers. You file this form with the court with your Answer, so the court knows the plaintiff received a copy. 

How to serve your Answer

  • Choose a server

    You can't serve papers yourself. Ask another adult – a server – to deliver the papers.   

    Your server must be: 

    • 18 or over, and 

    • Not part of your case (they aren't another plaintiff or defendant)

    Your server can be: 

    • Someone you know 

    • A professional process server you hire 

  • Figure out when to serve


    You have 30 days after you were served the Summons and Complaint to respond. This means mail the Answer and file it with the court. Mail your Answer far enough in advance to reach the court by the deadline.

  • Have your server mail the papers

    Your server mails these papers:

    • Copy of your Answer 

    • Any other papers you plan to file (except any fee waivers) 

    • A dated but unsigned copy of Proof of Service by First Class Mail (form POS-030). It helps if you fill in the top part of the form with the case and court information. Your server can then fill in the information about how, when, and where they mailed the papers.  A dated but unsigned copy of the proof of service must be sent with the answer or other papers being served. Once they are mailed, the server will sign the form.

    Tell your server to note the date they mailed the papers. Your server needs this date to fill out the Proof of Service form. 

    The server then mails the copy to the plaintiff's lawyer, or to the plaintiff if they don't have a lawyer.

    No. There are rules about when you can use certified mail. Even then, it requires getting the other person's signature, which is often hard to do. Use regular (first-class) mail.  

  • Have your server sign the Proof of Service form

    After your server mails the papers, they must sign the Proof of Service.

  • Make copies

    Make one copy of your signed Proof of Service form. File the original Proof of Service (signed by your server) and the copy in the clerk’s office. Have the clerk stamp the copy and return it to you for your records.

If you're sued

What's next?

Once you’ve served your Answer, you must file the Answer and Proof of Service with the court.

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