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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
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I was served papers yesterday from my ex husband regarding

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I was served papers yesterday from my ex husband regarding "petition for contempt" of visitation. The papers were left with my 16 year old son. They aren't sealed or covered or anything, leaving him t read them...and then laying on the table for my 10 year old to read. I find this disturbing. What is the regulation or stipulation. I looked it up. It stated the following:

By delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to him or by leaving copies thereof at the defendant's dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein.

What is suitable age? And what about said discretion?

Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.



What you are describing is not proper service. A person of 'suitable age' is someone who is of legal age, ie an adult. Someone who is 16 cannot sign for, or be served on your behalf. Hence, you can contest the summons and petition, and file against the ex for violating process against you. This is frankly unacceptable.


Hope that clarifies.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I called the sheriff's office today to complain because I thought this was highly inappropriate. But I was informed that in NC, they are allowed to leave civil process papers with anyone 13 or older. However when I looked it up online, it stated suitable age...not 13.


I believe that they are misreading the rule. The rule states that if someone who is being served is between 14-18, they can be served so long as their parent is served also. It does not state that someone between 14-18 is of a 'suitable age'. Here is the full law and the excerpt I was referring to:

Rule 4
(2) Minors, Incompetents and Persons Confined. Upon a minor under the age of 14 years, a person judicially declared incapable of conducting his own affairs, or an incompetent person by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to such minor, or incompetent personally and also a copy to (a) the guardian or committee of such person, or if there be none such within the State upon (b) a parent or other person having the care and control of such person, or (c) any competent person with whom he resides or (d) in whose service he is employed. If the individual upon whom service is made is a minor between the ages of 14 and 18, who lives with a parent or guardian, a copy of the summons and complaint shall likewise be served upon said parent or guardian, if said parent or guardian resides within the State. Service on imprisoned persons or persons confined in a state hospital or similar institution, in or out of this State, shall be made by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to the confined person personally; and service shall be made by the sheriff of the county in which the person is imprisoned or confined. In cases of persons imprisoned, and patients in a state hospital or similar institution, personal service of process may be made by the superintendent of the institution or by the director of the prison system or by assistants duly designated by the superintendent or the director in writing for the purpose of making service of process, instead of the sheriff. The superintendent or the director or their designated assistants shall not be entitled to any costs therefore. Service on confined or imprisoned persons shall also conform to the provisions of § 15-9-510, S.C. Code, 1976.

Full link:

Hope that clarifies.


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