Waukesha County

Service Guide

“Service” and “service of process” are legal terms used to describe the act of giving notice of a lawsuit or court hearing to another person. There are several different methods and very specific time limits by which you must have the other party served. The type of service you are required to use depends on the type of action you are filing.

YOU MUST HAVE THE OTHER PARTY SERVED PROPERLY

YOU MUST HAVE PROPER PROOF OF SERVICE

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THE OTHER PARTY SERVED PROPERLY THE COURT CANNOT HEAR OR DECIDE YOUR CASE

Notice: This packet describes only the most common methods of service available for use. Please seek legal assistance if you would like to explore additional/alternative methods or if the forms you are filing are not listed. See below for discussion/definition of Personal Service.

Form (Name/Number)Required Type of ServiceService Time Limits
Summons and Petition for Divorce/Legal Separation (FA-4104/FA-4105) Personal Within 90 Calendar days from the date the divorce/legal separation was filed
Summons and Petition for Vistitation Rights of Other Persons Personal Within 90 Calendar days from the date the Summons and Petition were filed
Subpoena (GF-126) Personal Not less than 10 Business days before the date of the hearing
Affidavit to Show Cause and Request for Hearing for Temporary Order and Order to Show Cause (FA-4128VA/FA-4129VB or FA-4129VA/FA-4129VB) Personal    Not less than 5 Business days before the date of the hearing
Affidavit for Finding of Contempt and Order to Show Cause for Finding of Contempt (FA-4172VA/FA-4172VB)
Motion to Enforce Physical Placement Order (FA-609)
Personal Not less than 5 Business days before the date of the hearing
Motion for and Notice of (DeNovo) Hearing (FA-4130) 

***Filed as a result of a Contempt Hearing [not from a Motion Hearing]***
  Personal Not less than 5 Business days before the date of the hearing
Order to Appear (FA-4142)   Personal Not less than 24 hours before the date of the hearing if the other party lives in Waukesha County 

Not less than 72 hours before the date of the hearing if the other party does NOT live in Waukesha County, but does live in the State of Wisconsin
Notice of Motion and Motion (FA-4170)   Mail  Not less than 8 Business days before the date of the hearing
Motion for and Notice of New (DeNovo) Hearing (FA-4130) 

***Filed as a result of a Motion Hearing [not from a Contempt Hearing]***
Mail  Not less than 8 Business days before the date of the hearing
NOTE: If you are unable to serve the other party within the required rime limits, you may write a letter to the court requesting a different court date. You must then have the other party served with the new court date, if granted.
WARNING: Copies, NOT original documents, should be given to the other party. The originals (if in your possession) and proof of service need to be returned to the Family Division Office after the other party has been served. 

There are five basic ways to have the other party personally served.  Personal Service means that the documents are placed in the hands of the other party, the other party is served face-to-face.

1.      Voluntary Admission

     a.      When serving the Other party

You may give the documents to the other party and ask that he/she voluntarily accept the papers from you.  YOU MAY ONLY SERVE THE OTHER PARTY IF THE OTHER PARTY VOLUNTARILY ACCEPTS THE PAPERS FROM YOU.

If the other party voluntarily accepts the papers from you then:

  • Prior to serving the other party you should complete the caption of the Admission of Service (FA-4119V).
  • Have the Other party complete and sign the bottom of the Admission of Service (FA-4119V).
  • Return the Admission of Service and a set of the documents served, as soon as possible, to the Family Division Office.  Remember to keep a copy of all documents, including the completed/signed Admission of Service, for your records.

     b.      When serving the State of Wisconsin / Child Support Enforcement Agency

If the State of Wisconsin is a party to the action, you must serve your local Child Support Enforcement Agency using the following steps below:

  • Take a copy of the forms to be served to the Child Support Enforcement Agency
  • Give the papers to a representative from the Child Support Enforcement Agency and ask him/her to “admit service.”  He/she will complete the bottom portion of the Admission of Service (FA-4119V).
  • Return the Admission of Service to the Family Division Office as proof of service (keep a copy for your records).

2.      Sheriff’s Department

The Sheriff’s Department, of the County in which the individual to be served resides, may serve the other party.  Proof of service and a set of the documents which were served must be returned to the Family Division Office as soon as possible.  Remember to keep a copy for your records.  Answers to the Waukesha County Sheriff Department’s Frequently Asked Questions are included in this packet.

3.      Private Process Server

You may make arrangements with a private process server to have the other party personally served.  Contact individual companies for fees and procedural information.  To find a private process server in your or the other party’s area, you may look under “Process Service” using a phone or internet directory or by going to http://www.iprocessservers.com .  Proof of service and a set of the documents that were served must be returned to the Family Division Office as soon as possible.  Remember to keep a copy for your records.

4.      Service using a Friend or Relative

A friend or relative who is over 18, is a resident of Wisconsin, and is not a party to the action may also serve the other party:

  • You:  Prior to Friend or Relative serving Other party you should complete the caption of the Affidavit of Service (FA-4120V).
  • Friend or Relative:  Gives a copy of the paperwork to the other party.  At the time of service the Friend of Relative (who is serving the papers) must write the following on the copy that is served: Friend of Relative signature; time; date; place and manner of service; and name of person served.
  • Friend or Relative:  Completes the Affidavit of Service (FA-4120V) by filling out every line including bottom of the first page which asks for the name of the person who was served.
  • Friend of Relative:  Signs it in the presence of a notary public.
  • You:  Return the Affidavit of Service and a set of the documents served, as soon as possible, to the Family Division Office.  Remember to keep a copy for your records.

5.      LAST RESORT – Service by Publication

The Service by Publication Packet is available to assist individuals with service by publication who are filing an action for divorce/legal separation ONLY.

Before attempting this last resort, you should consider seeking legal assistance.  There are specific and complicated rules that must be followed to successfully serve a party by publication.  Service by Publication is a last resort and can only be used if you failed to have the other party served by one of the methods above.  You have a responsibility to make every effort to personally serve the other party if possible, which includes gathering reasonably available information from family and friends to try and determine the other party’s location.

The option of Service by Publication is only available to you if you can answer yes to all of the following:

  • You have tried service using the Sheriff’s Department or a private process server.
  • You have given them as much information as possible to help them find the other person.
  • The Sheriff’s Department or private process server cannot find the other person after a diligent search and have provided you with an Affidavit of Due Diligence/Not Found/Attempted Service stating that the other party could not be found.  Keep this affidavit.

Service by Mail

Serving documents on the other party by mail is allowed for certain types of actions.  If service by mail is allowed, you must:

  • Mail copies of the documents to the other party make sure to include an Income and Expense Statement (FA-4138V).
  • Complete the Affidavit of Mailing (FA-4121V) and sign it in the presence of a Notary Public.
  • Return the Affidavit of Mailing and a set of the documents that were mailed to the Family Division Office as soon as possible.  Remember to keep a copy for your records.