Service of Process in Illinois

Service of Process in Illinois

Service of Process in Illinois is not that complicated. However, I am not an attorney and do not play one on TV. Always seek competent legal advice when dealing with issues of this type. Here are some suggestions.

Does your lease say that the tenants must be served by certified mail? Then it is time to update your lease agreement. If somebody must be served by Certified Mail make sure it is you. In Illinois plaintiffs in couties with populations over 3,000,000 can ​request the court to appoint a special process server.

How it Works

After filing a complaint in Illinois, the plaintiff must provide the defendant with a copy of the filed document. This is called service of process in Illinois. Service of process provides the defendant with actual notice of the pending legal action.

With notice the defendant will have the opportunity to file a timely response such as a demurrer to challenge the court’s jurisdiction. They may also file an answer in a civil lawsuit. Failure to serve the defendant with all filed documents will result in the court dismissing the lawsuit. Always follow the correct procedure when completing service of process in Illinois.

In Illinois, the county sheriff, or an Illinois licensed process server can deliver the filed court documents to the defendant. You can also file a motion with the court requesting that a special process server be appointed. A special process server can be anyone over the age of 18 that is not a party to the lawsuit. For example, you may ask a friend or family member to act as a special process server if they are not a party to the lawsuit.

(735 ILCS 5/) Code of Civil Procedure.

 (f) In counties with a population of 3,000,000 or more, process may be served, with special appointment by the court, by a private process server or a law enforcement agency other than the county sheriff in proceedings instituted under the Forcible Entry and Detainer Article of this Code as a result of a lessor or lessor's assignee declaring a lease void pursuant to Section 11 of the Controlled Substance and Cannabis Nuisance Act. 
(Source: P.A. 99-169, eff. 7-28-15.) 


Illinois recognizes several methods of service

 Personal Service

A Process Server personally delivers the defendant a copy of the documents. The process server is not required to have the defendant touch the document. If the defendant is present and can see the process server and refuses to accept them they can be placed on a flat service while the server tells the defendant what they are going to do. and advises them they have been served.

Back in the eary 90s when I was a process server many defendants refused to open the screen door. So I placed them on the porch weighted down with a folding paper clip , advised them they had been served and walked away.

Certified or Registered Mail

Used if personal service is not possible. The documents should be mailed to the defendant’s place of residence, with return receipt requested. If the defendant refuses to accept personal service, the plaintiff can then mail the documents using regular mail delivery service.

Substituted Service

The process server leaves the court documents with an individual residing in the defendant’s home who is at least 13 years of age.

Service by Publication

Service by publication means that the plaintiff places a notice in a newspaper in the area where the plaintiff filed the lawsuit. To accomplish this go to the court first and obtain approval from the court before you use service by publication. Without a judges written order you cannot use this method to accomplish service of process in your lawsuit.

What’s Next, in Service of Process

After the process server completes service, the process server will fill out an affidavit of service. The affidavit of service describes the date, place, time and method the process server used to accomplish service. The process server must indicate the individual’s name or provide a detailed physical description of the individual who accepted service on behalf of the defendant. As the plaintiff you must make sure that the Affidavit of Service is filed with the court prior to the first appearance date. It provides evidence to the court of the defendant’s knowledge of the lawsuit.

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