Improper Process of Service

by Rachel from Houston, Texas

I received a petition from my ex to modify child support. He wants to lower it. It was mailed from his attorney with no certificate of service and there was no summons from the clerk of court either.


There was nothing on the petition that states that I had 20 days to respond. The petition was filed in FL where the ex is and I live in Texas. How should I respond to this?

Answer to Florida Court Forms Question

Dear Rachel,

Florida law recognizes that an item that was mailed is presumed to have been received.

It is a rebuttable presumption. If you respond to it, then you obviously received it.

However, as you are likely aware a Florida Supplemental Petition to Modify Child Support requires personal service. The instructions for that form state:

For your case to proceed, you must properly notify the other party in your case of the supplemental petition. If you know where he or she lives, you should use personal service.

Three basic methods are used for service of process:

(1) actual, or personal, service,

(2) substituted service, and

(3) service by publication.

Although each method is legally acceptable, personal service is preferred because it is the most effective way of providing notice and it is difficult for the defendant to attack its legality.

A number of states allow service simply by mailing the papers to the defendant's actual address; generally registered mail is required. Personal service means in-hand delivery of the papers to the proper person. Traditionally personal service was the only method of service allowed by law because it was best suited to give the defendant notice of the proceedings.

Notice: We provide these answers to the general public and our website visitors as a means to further their online legal research. These answers are merely suggestions and should not be regarded as legal advice.

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Service of Motions
by: Jill from Michigan

Are plaintiff's filed motions (civil) supposed to be mailed to defendant? Are motions supposed to be served/mailed to plaintiffs? I live in Michigan, but the case is in Florida.

--Yes, civil rules of procedure require that all motions are served on the other party and/or the other party's attorney. See the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 1.080 for more information. If you mail the copies, using certified mail is always a good idea as well. --Staff

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