What is Service?

Service is the legal term to describe the giving of court documents by one person to another. It means giving the other person a copy of your documents in a way that satisfies the Court that the other person has received them.

As the service requirements of the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court may vary, go to the Forms section of the Family Law website for both Courts service forms, and  a service kit from the Family Court.

Affidavit of Service

You complete this form and file it after documents have been served to prove they have been served.

The completed and signed original of the form is filed at the Court. Before you file it you must also make sufficient copies to have one for each person to be served and a copy for your own records.

What should be attached to this Form

You may need to attach certain documents to the Affidavit of Service.

If the person served has signed and returned to you the Acknowledgment of Service and

  • you can recognise the signature on the Acknowledgment, the original of that document must be attached to the Affidavit of Service; or
  • you cannot recognise the signature on the Acknowledgment of Service, then the document must be attached to an affidavit of a person who can recognise the signature with a statement which might, for example, state:

‘I recognise the signature on the attached Acknowledgment of Service as that of [insert the name of the person served] because I have seen that person’s signature on previous occasions.’

If a photograph was used to identify the person to be served, the photograph should be attached to the affidavit (see Part D, Item 5 of the  Affidavit of Service).

The Service Kit provides instructions on how to serve documents.

In completing a Court form, you must*

Complete the form by typing (eg. on a computer or typewriter) or hand printed in ink.

NOTE:  Hard copies of all forms, brochures, kits and booklets are also available through any Family Law Registry. If you are interested in ordering bulk hard copies click to view information on ordering publications.

When do you serve documents?  

Whenever you file a document in support of your case, a copy of that document must be served on the other person/people involved in the proceedings. This must be done as soon as possible after filing the document. There may be time limits within which documents must be served. Check with Court staff about the relevant time limits.

Who do you serve with the documents?

A copy of the document filed with the Court must be served on the:

  • other person or people involved in the proceedings, and
  • the Children’s Representative if one has been appointed in your case.

If the other person has a lawyer, that lawyer may accept service on behalf of his/her client except where documents must be served in person.

Service of documents on persons who are not parties

There are some documents that must be served on persons who are not parties. For example, if you are applying for an order for property settlement and either party has a superannuation interest, you may need to serve a copy of the application on the trustee of the superannuation plan in which the interest is held. Other examples include the service of subpoena and the service of documents on the Child Support Registrar. You should seek legal advice about what needs to be done in these circumstances.

How can you show the Court that the documents have been served?  

You should obtain the Courts Service Kit and more details about service and proof of service from the Family Law Courts website.