What Types Of Papers Can Be Served?

Getting served is merely a process wherein legal documents are given to an individual or business entity which informs them that they are a party to the ensuing legal proceedings. Legal documents can be served in a multitude of ways. One of the most common methods is by hiring a professional and licensed process server who specializes in the field. There are many kinds of papers that can be served depending on the legal proceedings and this article will take you through some of the more common ones.


One of the most common types of documents that can be served include writs. They are generally court orders that demand an individual’s presence in court on a specified date. The writ serves to explicate the reasons why an individual is being called upon and only then can legal proceedings follow. The different kind of writs in the US Constitution include the following:

  • Habeas Corpus Writ: issued to demand the release of an individual who has been detained unlawfully whether in prison or private custody
  • Mandamus Writ: issued to demand the presence of a public authority who has failed to report for public duties
  • Certiorari Writ: issued by a Supreme or High court to supersede orders by a lower court
  • Prohibition Writ: issued by a Supreme or High court to prohibit the proceedings in a lower court when the latter has overstepped its jurisdiction
  • The Writ of Quo-Warranto: issued to question the authority of a person holding public office who is deemed unqualified


A subpoena is classed as a specific subcategory of a writ as it also orders an individual to come to court, to provide evidence, or to appear at a deposition. In civil cases, subpoenas may help in settling claims as in the case of joint custody arrangements. Subpoenas may ask the individual to submit a variety of documents including medical bills, photographs, income tax slips, and even DNA samples. There are consequences to ignoring a subpoena, as it is a court mandated order.


A summons is a particular legal notice informing a party of a lawsuit that has been taken against them and is considered the beginning of a litigation process. The summons includes the names of the plaintiff and the defendant, the details of when, or if,  appearance in court is needed and finally, the nature of the summons itself. A summons is regarded as a notice, rather than a mandate to defend your case.


These refer to written statements that describe a breach of agreement or unmet terms against a party. Complaints can be about a variety of things, including but not limited to professional misconduct, divorce, civil fraud, and debt collection. Examples of these are threatening language in the workplace, fraud, misappropriation, and negligence.