I've Just Been Served with a Court Application - What do I do?
You’ve probably seen it on television, a guy dressed up as a pizza delivery person who shows up to someone’s door pretending to deliver pizza only to find court papers inside of the pizza box. They’ve just been served. I hate to break it to you, but in most cases being served with court documents is not that exciting and definitely not as cheesy…
Most lawyers hire a process server, an individual who specializes in personally delivering documents to people who need to be served. They know how to track the person down and respectfully hand deliver documents - this is what we call personal or special service. This type of service is needed when someone has started a court application against you, has filed a divorce application, or has started a motion to change. Hand-delivering documents guarantees that you are now aware of a court process that has started against you and that you have been properly informed of the situation.
The first thing to do when being served with documents is to remain calm and not to panic. The package of documents you have just received have clear instructions on what you need to do next - the print on the first couple pages clearly outlines how many days you have to respond. If you are in Canada at the time you are served, you have 30 calendar days to respond (and 60 days if you are outside of the country).
Once you have carefully read through everything you have just received, it’s important to understand that the application is solely from the point of view of the Applicant (the person who made the application). This means that when you respond (as the Respondent), you will have the opportunity to tell your version of the story which means you do not have to freak out if you don’t agree with something in the application. In fact, given that there is a dispute in court, odds are you won’t agree with some of the information in the application, and that’s okay. Remember, just because someone has told their story first does not mean your side is taken any less seriously.
It is strongly encouraged to obtain legal counsel or at least meet with a lawyer after being served. They are experts in the legal system and know exactly how to proceed. Regardless of whether you obtain legal advice or not, it is pivotal that you respond to the application or at least make the other party (or opposing counsel) aware that you intend on responding to the application.
This step is critical because if you do not make any attempt to respond in time, the applicant has the right to legally proceed in their matter without you.
At the end of the day, being involved in a court process can be scary, stressful, expensive, and time consuming. That’s why meeting with a lawyer, even once, can really change the course of your case and most importantly, put you at ease.
If you’ve been served with an application, contact us today to setup a consultation and get one step closer to resolving your court case.
Jolanta Bula B.A. (Hons.) J.D.
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