You are here:Home > Coming to Court > Service of Process

Service of Process

“Service” is the legal term applied to the process by which a Defendant is summoned (notified) that he or she has been named in a lawsuit. Without service the case cannot proceed.

Methods for accomplishing delivery of a divorce complaint, or counterclaim are described in Rules 4 through 4.6 of the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure. A party may be served by certified or express mail through the United States Postal Service, by commercial carrier, return receipt requested; or by deputy sheriff or a process server who is specially appointed by the Court. All service requests must be made through the Clerk of Courts. Service by process server or deputy sheriff may be delivered personally by handing the person a copy of the pleading or by leaving a copy of the pleading at the party’s residence or place of business, if it is very likely that the party will receive them there. A party can be served by publication if he or she cannot be located. The fact that a lawsuit has been filed is published in a newspaper, the Daily Legal News, for six weeks.

Papers filed after service of the initial summons may be mailed directly to the opposing party or that party’s attorney according to Civil Rule 5.

Motions filed after the marriage has ended have to be served on the other party pursuant to the rules set forth above. The proper service of post decree motions give the Court the proper authority over the issue in the motion.

Requesting service of process starts with completing “Instructions for Service” for the Clerk of Courts and providing the Clerk with a copy of the pleading to be served. If the intended recipient or another person signs for the mail, the Postal Service or commercial carrier will notify the Clerk of Courts who will then enter the fact of service on the Court’s docket. Service is then considered complete.

If the intended recipient is not present and the mail has not been accepted, notification will be left at the address requesting that the recipient claim the mail. If the recipient fails to claim or refuses to accept the mail the Clerk of Courts will be notified and will note that fact on the docket. The Clerk will send a notice to the person who requested service informing that service has failed. If service was not claimed or was refused the person requesting service may file another "Instruction for Service" asking the Clerk to send a copy of the document by ordinary U.S. mail. Another copy of the document must be provided to the Clerk to mail. Ordinary mail service cannot be requested if the item were returned for reasons other than "unclaimed" or "refused.”

The person requesting service is responsible for ensuring that service has been completed. Service information is available on the Clerk of Courts' civil docket. The civil docket can be viewed at