Texas Service of Process Rules

Ryan Duffy
Author : Ryan Duffy
8 min read

The service of process rules in Texas are similar to most states. Almost every state has close to identical rules to serve legal papers; however, there are some particular rules that are distinctive to Texas and few other states. Because of these few, distinctive rules of service, paralegals and lawyers have to fully understand the Texas service of process rules or they risk making mistakes that could affect the lawsuit they are trying to file. At best, a mistake in serving legal papers could prolong the litigation and cost the client more money. At worst, a mistake made in serving legal papers could potentially cause the lawsuit to be dismissed before it even gets started.

This is why it is important to engage the services of a professional Texas process server to make sure everything is done correctly and on time. Legal professionals do not need to rely upon inexperienced process servers when professional and experienced process servers are easily available at an affordable cost.

Where to Find Texas’ Service of Process Rules

Texas’ service of process rules can be found in the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. Most of the service of process requirements are found in Rule 103. However, there are other rules of service scattered throughout the Rules of Civil Procedure that deal with service of process in specific cases. For example, there are many types of lawsuits where the initial notice and complaint that begins the lawsuit has to be filed with the Texas Secretary of State’s office in order to have proper service. These cases are ones where government entities are being sued, and many other types of cases that are too numerous to list here.

This is a good example of why it is a good idea to hire a professional process service agency and let the experts handle the details on who needs to be served and in what manner.

Who Can Serve Legal Papers in Texas

Texas follows most states when it comes to who can serve legal papers on an opposing party. Most of the time these legal papers are the initial notice and complaint that begins a lawsuit. Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 103 states that “Process including citation and other notices, writs, orders, and other papers issued by the court may be served anywhere by:

  • Any sheriff or constable or other person authorized by law,

  • Any person authorized by law or by written order of the court who is not less than eighteen years of age, or

  • Any person certified under order of the Supreme Court.

Whoever serves the legal papers, that person cannot be a party to the lawsuit or have any interest in the outcome of the lawsuit.

Another interesting restriction in Texas’ service of process rules is that no civil suit shall be commenced nor legal process issued or served on a Sunday, except in cases of injunction, attachment, garnishment, sequestration, or distress proceedings. However, a citation (notice of beginning of a lawsuit) can be served by publication even if it is published in a newspaper on a Sunday.

Another rule in Texas is that with certain types of lawsuits or legal matters, only a sheriff or constable can serve the legal papers, unless a different type of service of process is authorized by a written court order. The type of cases subject to this rule are an action of forcible entry and detainer, a writ that requires the actual taking of possession of a person, property or thing, or process requiring that an enforcement action be physically enforced by the person delivering the process.

Alternative Service of Process in Texas

There are alternative ways to serve a defendant or opposing party with a new lawsuit or other legal papers. These alternative ways are used when the more traditional way of personal service cannot be completed for some reason. Similar to other states, Texas has alternative service of process by mailing and by publication. However, unlike most other states, service by registered or certified mail and citation by publication must, if requested, be made by the clerk of the court in which the case is pending.

If personalized service or service by mail cannot be accomplished, court approval for alternative service can be requested. The court may authorize service of process by leaving a copy of the citation and petition with anyone over the age of 16 at the defendant's location. The court may also authorize service in any other manner, including electronically through social media, email, or other technology that would be reasonably effective to give the defendant notice of the suit.

Serving a Texas Corporation With Legal Papers

In some cases, legal papers have to be served on a corporation or business located in Texas. There are specific rules that cover this type of service of process. When a corporation of limited liability company or some other type of business entity is created in Texas, the creators of the corporation have to designate a registered agent for service of process. This means that if a lawsuit and citation has to be served on a business or corporation, the registered agent of that company can be learned by searching the Secretary of State’s office for that specific company and their registered agent. Then, the legal papers can be either hand delivered to the registered agent’s office or mailed to that office. Once that occurs, service of process is complete.

If, for some reason, a registered agent is not listed by the corporation or the registered agent cannot be located, then the legal documents can be served upon the Secretary of State’s office.

Rely on Professional Process Servers

Texas is a big state and there is a lot of ground that needs to be covered when attempting to serve legal papers on a defendant or opposing party. When you hire a professional process server agency, you can be assured that the resources are available to cover the entire state. Remove the stress and worry about serving a lawsuit properly by hiring a professional process server to make sure the job is done correctly and on time.

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Ryan Duffy
Ryan Duffy

Associate Attorney

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