8.10 Serving Documents

Serving documents, means giving the other party court documents. You must serve court documents following the processes for service in the court rules. There are two ways to Serve Documents: Personal Service and Ordinary Service

Personal service

Personal service occurs when someone physically hands the document over to the other party who needs to receive it. Personal service must be done by someone over the age of 18. You cannot personally serve a document on the other party. Someone else has to do it for you.

It can be someone you know or you can hire a professional, called a process server.            

Here’s what to do:

  1. Make copies of your document

Usually you are going to need at least three copies plus the original – one for you, one for the court, one for your former spouse, and one to be attached to the affidavit of service which proves to the court that the document was served.

  1. Give the person serving the document two copies of the document

The process server will give one copy to your former spouse, and attach one to the affidavit of service, along with the date and time the service occurred.

  1. Give the process server your former spouse’s contact information

The process server needs to know where to find your former spouse to hand over the document. Give the process server the address of your former spouse’s residence and workplace, along with their phone number. If you have a picture of them give it to the process server as well. If you do not have a picture of them, write down their description so that the process server can identify them.

What does the process server need to do?

If you have hired a professional process server, they know how to effectively serve documents. Make sure that they provide you with an affidavit of service.

If you did not hire a professional process server, you should tell your process server to do the following things:

  1. Check to the copies of the documents against the original to make sure that they are the same.
  2. Give one to the party being served, and keep the other copy so that it can be attached to the affidavit proving service.
  3. Mark the date, time, and location that the documents service took place. This will later be included in the Affidavit of Personal Service.
  4. If the person being served used any photo identification such as a driver’s license, record the number for proof of service.
  5. Complete an Affidavit of Personal Service.
  6. Attach the documents to the affidavit.
  7. Mark each document as an “Exhibit”. If you had more than one document, one would be “Exhibit A,” and the other would be labeled “Exhibit B”, and so on.
  8. Take the package to a lawyer or notary public or a clerk at the court registry to swear or affirm the documents were served before them. Once you have sworn to service, they will sign and stamp the document and it can then be used as proof that the document was served.


Ordinary service


Documents that are mailed are usually considered served 14 days after they are mailed. This is a slow delivery process. If you are in a time crunch you should use a different service option if you can. Regular mail is acceptable.


Complete a Fax Cover Page online or by hand and send both the cover page and the document to the fax number provided.


Attach the document to an email and send it to the address provided. Ask that the other party responds confirming receipt of the email. Print what you send and what you receive in return.

Ordinary service usually means that the document was dropped at their address for service, mailed, faxed, or emailed to the other party. You will have to choose the method of service depending on the information that they provided on their court documents. Check their Response to Family Claim form for the information you need. Remember to use whatever the other party has listed as their address for service and nothing else.         

Here is what to do:

  1. Make copies of the document

 Usually will need:

  • One copy for you
  • One copy for the court
  • One copy that will be served on the other party
  1. Figure out where to deliver

What has the other party listed as their address for service in the court forms? This is where you will be delivering or sending the document

  1. Deliver the document

Lawyer’s Tip: 

Do not deliver anything to an address that is not listed; even if you know the right email or fax number to use.

The other party’s address for service will determine how you deliver the document to them. If they have listed an email address, use that. If they have listed a fax number, you can use that. 

  1. Fill out an Affidavit of Service.

The last step is to fill out an affidavit proving service. Once you have filled it out you have to take it to a lawyer, notary, or court clerk to have it sworn or affirmed.

Once you have completed the affidavit of service you should attach it to a copy of the document you served and keep it with your file. Label the document “Exhibit A”. If you have more than one, label them “Exhibit A,” “Exhibit B,” and so on.


How to Serve?

How you need to serve a document depends on what court you are dealing with and what document you are using. Do not make assumptions about how to serve a document. Instead, check the rules frequently to make sure that you are following the proper service procedures. Also, take a look at the Provincial and Supreme Court Charts below to see what type of service is required for which document.

Provincial Court Chart:

Personal Service

Ordinary Service

  • Application to Obtain an Order
  • Application Respecting Existing Orders or Agreements
  • Order to Recognize an Extraprovincial Order for Guardianship, Parenting Arrangements or Contact
  • Request for court enforcement under the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act;
  • Subpoena
  • Summons
  • All other documents












Supreme Court Chart:

Personal Service

Ordinary Service

  • Notice of Family Claim (F3)
  • Application to change , suspend or terminate a final order (F31)
  • Counterclaim if new Respondent
  • Petition (F73)
  • Notice of withdrawal (F7)
  • All other documents









Proof of Service

Once you’ve served your documents, you should be able to prove you have served them in case the court requires it. To prove you have served a document, an affidavit will be needed. Whoever has served the documents will need to fill out an affidavit stating they served the document and have it notarized. Refer back to Affidavits for information on how to write affidavits. The affidavit form will depend on the court and type of service.

Type of Service

Court Form

Supreme Court Personal Service

Affidavit of Personal Service Form 15

Supreme Court Ordinary Service

Affidavit of Ordinary Service Form 16

Provincial Court Personal Service

Affidavit of Personal Service Form 5

Provincial Court Ordinary Service

Affidavit of Service Form 13


Lawyer’s Tip:

For provincial matters the affidavits to prove service are attached to the application to obtain order forms.

Take a moment to test your knowledge about service by completing the Serving Documents Quiz.