Generally, it developed in the Law, that when a “Lawsuit,” or other legal action effecting the rights of another was commenced, the Court would issue a written document directed to the opposition Party, and notifying that Party of the filing of the “suit.” Not surprising, is the fact that such a “writing,” was called a “Writ.” In more modern times, the particular “writing” filed for this purpose at the commencement of a lawsuit, such as the one under discussion here, is called a “Summons.” A “Summons” will be the required amount or “Notice” to another, before that person’s guaranteed Rights may be compromised by a Court-of-Law. The word “Process,” as used in this context, has a relationship to the concept of “Due Process,” so important in our particular form of American Constitutional Government. Stated simply: “Due Process” will literally be: that amount of “Process” that will be “Due” to a person, before their civil and property rights can be effected. So, with that in mind, it can be said, that a “Summons” will be the “Notice” to a party named in a legal action that has been filed, that such “Served” person, will have to approach the Court, and participate in the action; and at least by the filing of a written Responsive Pleading in the Matter; or else a “Default” may be authorized to be taken against the person “Served;” and a Judgment ultimately taken against the “Served” person; and solely according to the urging of the person that filed the action; and, as partly due to the failure of the party served, to properly respond to the pleading that has been served on them.
It will be necessary for the Petitioner to legally “Serve” the Respondent, with the Petition. This is because, before a Court can do anything that would effect the rights of any person, it will be necessary for that “person” to have warning, or “Notice,” of what the Court is considering. These days, someone who is over the age of 18, and who is not the Petitioner, will have to personally deliver the Petition to the Respondent. It will then be necessary for the person who actually delivered the Petition, to complete a form, which is called a “Proof of Service,” in which the “process server” swears that the Petition was personally delivered to the Respondent, and at a particular time and place. After the “Proof of Service” is properly completed, it will be filed with the Court; and a time (30 days) will begin to run, at the end of which, the Respondent is required to have filed his or her Response. Now, it is possible to avoid someone just showing-up somewhere, to hand the Petition to the person being served; but the person being served would have to cooperate. In such a case, the Petition would be mailed to the Respondent, along with a document called a ‘Notice of Acknowledgment and Receipt;” which, if signed and mailed back by the person served, would constitute adequate “notice,” and therefore legal “Service of Process.” There are certain situations which require exceptional procedures (for instance, if the person being served would hide, of otherwise “avoid service”), but those things should need the advice and assistance of Legal Counsel. The Sheriff can be asked to “serve= the Petition, if the local station is properly approached with a request. The fees are nominal. There are also professional “Process Servers@ (also called ‘Attorney Services”) which can be found in telephone books or on the internet. Attorneys are in touch with, and utilize such professionals, on a regular basis, It will really be best to utilize people who have experience in these areas, and know all of the rules and regulations.`
As distinct from a “Summons,” a “Subpoena” will be a “Process” that is “Served” on a non-party Witness, to “command” him, her or it, to appear at a stated time and place, to give testimony in a filed legal action. The “place” is usually a particular Court; but it can also be a law office, or other place where testimony can be taken (like for a “Deposition”). While a “person” is usually the object of a command to appear (a “Subpoena”), the Subpoena can also describe things (usually documents or other “writings”) that have to be produced at the particular time and place, by a person who is charged with taking care of those documents or other things; and for examination by the person who has issued the Subpoena.