Family Court of Western Australia

Serving Documents

Whenever you file a document at the Court, a copy of that document must be served on the other parties.

What is service?

Service is the legal term used to describe the giving a copy of documents to another person in a way that satisfies the Court the person has received them.

You need to serve a copy of your documents whenever you file a document. If a document that has been filed is not served prior to the next court date, your matter may be adjourned to allow the other party time to respond to the document.

How do I serve documents?

The way you serve a document on another party will depend on the type of document. There is ordinary service and special service.

Ordinary service involves giving the document to the other party or their lawyer by:

  • hand,
  • post or
  • electronic communication.

See the ordinary service page for more information.

Special service has similar requirements for how you send the documents, the difference is that you will need evidence of how you served the documents. You will need to complete and file evidence of proof of service. There are two types of special service:

The special service requirements are important, because if the Court is satisfied that some has been served, the case can proceed even if that person doesn’t attend the hearing.

Which documents require special service?

The documents requiring special service are:

  • an Initiating Application (Form 1)
  • an Application in a Case (Form 2) filed at the same time as a Form 1
  • an Application for Divorce
  • a Subpoena (Form 14)
  • a Form 2 fixing an enforcement hearing
  • an order made on Application without notice, and
  • any affidavit, brochure or other document that must be filed with a form mentioned above.

The following documents need to be served by special service by hand:

  • an Application – Contravention (Form 18), and
  • an Application – Contempt (Form 19).

Any other documents need to be served by ordinary service.

Note: There is information dealing specifically how to serve a divorce application

Who do I serve the documents on?

A copy of the document filed must be served on the other party (or parties) to the case and on the Independent Children’s Lawyer if one has been appointed.

If the other party has a lawyer, that lawyer may accept service on behalf of his/her client. If the other party has provided an address for service then the documents should be served at that address.

There are some documents that must be served on persons who are not parties. For example, you have requested a subpoena ordering someone to attend court, you must serve the subpoena on that person.

Other service issues

Overseas service

If you need to serve documents overseas you should seek legal advice about the special requirements. The Attorney General's Department also has information about serving documents overseas.

If you can’t locate the other party

If you cannot find the other party to serve the documents on them, it is possible to apply to the Court to dispense with service.

Service Forms

Last updated: 11-Oct-2022

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