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Do you have to use a process server or can you deliver documents yourself?

Region: Ontario Answer # 3015

In most cases, in Ontario, any person who is over 18 can serve legal papers and court documents. While you may be able to serve most documents yourself, such as Small Claims Court claims, there certain family court documents that you cannot deliver yourself. The following documents must be delivered by special service, meaning someone else who must be at least 18 years old, including a family member or friend, or a professional process server:

  • an Application (to start a family law case such as divorce)
  • a Motion to Change (to change a final order made in a family case), and
  • a document that could lead to imprisonment of the other party who is receiving it. This includes:
    • A Summons to Witness
    • A Notice of Contempt Motion
    • A Notice of Motion or Notice of Default Hearing

However, it is a good idea to hire a professional process server to serve your all of your documents instead of using a family member, friend or other non-professional, because it ensures that the papers are properly served and guarantees that the service is recognized by the courts.

Why should you use a process server?

Provincial laws exist regarding rules and regulations, such as acceptable methods of service and the proper order documents must be served in if there are multiple defendants. If you use a process server the judge will believe that the document was served according to the legal requirements.

Other reasons to use a process server include:

  • they are familiar with Canadian federal and provincial law requirement
  • they can work with other process servers making it easier to get papers served in areas other than your local jurisdiction
  • they may be closely connected with a network of lawyers that specialize in your legal issue, such as civil law, family law, criminal law, and small claims court
  • they may have close relationships with the various courts and courtroom staff
  • they have resources available – such as skip tracing – to locate subjects who are hard to locate
  • they are independent and not a party to the legal action, therefore a court would not consider that there was  any bias or possible collusion as might happen using a family member or friend
  • it may be dangerous for someone to serve documents themselves
  • they may offer other useful services, such as:
    • filing the documents with the court
    • legal document retrieval
    • personal property searches
    • courthouse record research

Get help

To hire a process server to serve legal documents, file court documents, conduct legal searches, or for other services, contact our preferred experts:

Ontario Wide Process Servers

Lormit Personal Services


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