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delivery of a pleading, notice or other paper in a suit, to the opposite party, to charge that party with receipt of it and subject him or her to its legal effect; communication of the substance of the process to the defendant, either by actual delivery or by other methods, whereby defendant is furnished with reasonable notice of the proceedings against him or her, to afford defendant the opportunity to appear and be heard.
EXAMPLE: Tamara files a lawsuit against a company, but the company never responds. before entering a default judgment against the company, the judge demands proof that the company was served with notice of the suit. Without such proof, the judge cannot be sure that the company knows there is a suit against it.
PERSONAL SERVICE: actual delivery to the party to be served.

SERVICE BY MAIL: may be permitted either by court rule or, under unusual circumstances, as the court may authorize.

SERVICE BY PUBLICATION: CONSTRUCTIVE SERVICE accomplished by publishing the notice in a newspaper designated by the court, and in some jurisdictions, by mailing that newspaper to the last-known address of the party.

SUBSTITUTED SERVICE: constructive service accomplished by service to a recognized representative or agent of the party to be served.
Source: Barron's Dictionary of Legal Terms, Steven H. Gifis, 5th Edition; ©
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