Who is responsible for serving the other party a copy of my pleading and scheduled court dates?
You, as the moving party on the case, are responsible for ensuring that the other party is properly served. The Court is not responsible for service of the other party on your behalf.
When does the other party need to be served by?
As soon as possible. The other party needs to have at least seven to ten days notice prior to the court date. If adequate notice was not provided and the other party does not attend a scheduled court event, you will have to get new dates and serve them in a timely manner.
Can I serve the other party myself?
You cannot personally serve the other party. A competent person over the age of 18, who is not a party on the case, or a family member; can serve the other party for you. This person could be a friend, sheriff, constable, etc. You can also serve them via mail or serve their attorney.
What do I do once the other party has been served?
Complete the Certificate of Service (Form I-6), which shows how the other party was served. File the original form with the Department of Court Records and provide a copy to the Child Custody Department by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or regular mail to
Family Law Center-Custody Department
440 Ross Street, Suite 130
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
If certified mail was used to serve the other party, the signed green card that the U.S. Postal Service returned to you must be attached as proof with your Certificate of Service.
What is certified mail?
Certified mail is a service offered by the U.S. Postal Service that provides proof that you sent the mail, allows you to track the delivery or attempted delivery of the mail, and provides you with confirmation that it was received via required signature. If the other party or their household agent signs for the certified mail, the post office will give you the signed green card proving that it was received. If they refuse to sign for it, the mail will be returned to you along with the unsigned green card. In that event, service has not been completed unless you also sent a copy to the other party by regular mail as well and the regular mail was not returned to you by the post office.
What if the other party refuses the certified mail?
If the other party refuses to accept the certified mail, but you also sent the mail via regular mail and the regular mail was not returned by the post office within 15 days, then service is considered complete.
What if the certified mail is unclaimed?
Service is not considered complete if the certified mail was unclaimed. You must use another method to serve the other party.
What if I don’t know where the other party lives?
You must conduct a diligent search to find the address of the other party. If you still cannot locate them, you may file a petition for special relief before your assigned judge requesting permission to serve the other party by alternate means.
What is service by original process?
When the first custody action is filed in a case, the other party must be served by original process.
Original process requires the responding party to be served either by certified mail (with the signed green card attached), personal service, service to attorney of record, or both certified and regular mail. Serving the responding party by regular mail alone is not service of original process.
What if I have successfully served the other party by original process in the past?
If you have already served the responding party by original process or there is an existing custody order in your case, then you do not need to do so again. When original process is not required, you may serve the responding party by personal service, attorney of record or regular mail (so long as the mail is not returned by the U.S. Postal Service). Certified mail is always an option.