Service of Process
Once a complaint is filed, it must be served on the other party. That party can either be a business or a person. Understanding the requirements and logistics of service may help to provide clarity on why your complaint does not get an answer immediately.
Under Georgia law, there are a few different ways to serve the other party with process. Proper service of process includes both a summons and a copy of the complaint. Although providing both is not always required, it is the formal and proper manner to serve process.
First, process must be served by the right person. Under the Georgia laws, this includes the following people: the sheriff (or his deputy) of the county where the action is brought or where defendant is found, the marshal or sheriff of the court, any citizen specially appointed by the court, a person who is not a party at least 18 years of age that has been appointed by the court, or a certified processor.
Next, the process must be served on the right person. If the plaintiff is serving a corporation or entity, then the process must be served on the president or managing agent or on the registered agent listed on Georgia’s Secretary of State website. If service is not possible on one of the mentioned, then the Secretary of State can act as an agent of the corporation and may be served.
If the process is being served on a natural person, it can be served to the defendant personally, by leaving copies at the defendant’s house or usual place of abode with someone of suitable age and discretion, or by delivery a copy to an agent authorized or appointed by law to receive that service.
Once the defendant is served, they will then have thirty (30) days to submit an answer to the Court. However, a plaintiff may ask a defendant to “waive” service, thereby making the above requirements unnecessary. A defendant may want to accept the offer to “waive” service for two important reasons. First, voluntary waiver provides the defendant with more time to file the answer in response to the complaint. Second, if they deny waiver of service, they will be responsible for paying the fees associated with formal service.
This is meant to serve as a simple overview of the service of process timeline and you should speak with an attorney if you have any further questions.