When a petition is filed with a justice court to initiate a suit, the clerk must promptly issue a citation and deliver the citation as directed by the plaintiff. The plaintiff is responsible for obtaining service on the defendant of the citation and a copy of the petition with any documents filed with the petition. Upon request, separate or additional citations must be issued by the clerk. The clerk must retain a copy of the citation in the court’s file.
The citation must:
The citation must include the following notice to the defendant in boldface type: "You have been sued. You may employ an attorney to help you in defending against this lawsuit. But you are not required to employ an attorney. You or your attorney must file an answer with the court. Your answer is due by the end of the 14th day after the day you were served with these papers. If the 14th day is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, your answer is due by the end of the first day following the 14th day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. Do not ignore these papers. If you do not file an answer by the due date, a default judgment may be taken against you. For further information, consult Part V of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, which is available online and also at the court listed on this citation."
The plaintiff must provide enough copies to be served on each defendant. If the party fails to do so, the clerk may make copies and charge the plaintiff the allowable copying cost.
No person who is a party to or interested in the outcome of the suit may serve citation in that suit, and, unless otherwise authorized by written court order, only a sheriff or constable may serve a citation in an eviction case, a writ that requires the actual taking of possession of a person, property or thing, or process requiring that an enforcement action by physically enforced by the person delivering the process. Other citations may be served by:
Citation must be served by:
Delivering a copy of the citation with a copy of the petition attached to the defendant in person, after endorsing the date of delivery on the citation; or
Mailing a copy of the citation with a copy of the petition attached to the defendant by registered or certified mail, restricted delivery, with return receipt or electronic return receipt requested.
A plaintiff must pay all fees for service unless the plaintiff has filed a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs with the court. If the plaintiff has filed a Statement, the plaintiff must arrange for the citation to be served by a sheriff, constable, or court clerk.
A citation cannot be served on a Sunday except in attachment, garnishment, sequestration, or distress proceedings.
If the methods under "Methods of Service" are insufficient to serve the defendant, the plaintiff, or the constable, sheriff, process server certified under order of the Supreme Court, or other person authorized to serve process, may make a request for alternative service. This request must include a sworn statement describing the methods attempted under "Methods of Service" and stating the defendant’s usual place of business or residence, or other place where the defendant can probably be found. The court may authorize the following types of alternative service:
In the event that service of citation by publication is necessary, the process is governed by the rules in county and district court.
The officer or authorized person to whom process is delivered must:
The return, together with any document to which it is attached, must include the following information:
When the citation is served by registered or certified mail as authorized by Rule 501.2(b)(2), the return by the officer or authorized person must also contain the receipt with the addressee’s signature.
When the officer or authorized person has not served the citation, the return must show the diligence used by the officer or authorized person to execute the same and the cause of failure to execute it, and where the defendant is to be found, if ascertainable.
The officer or authorized person who serves or attempts to serve a citation must sign the return. If the return is signed by a person other than a sheriff, constable, or clerk of the court, the return must either be verified or be signed under penalty of perjury. A return signed under penalty of perjury must contain the statement below in substantially the following form:
My name is (First) (Middle) (Last) , my date of birth is (Month) (Day), (Year) , and my address is (Street), (City), (State) (Zip Code), (County) . I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed in [placeholder] County, State of [placeholder], on the [placeholder] day of (Month), (Year). [Placeholder] Declarant
Where citation is executed by an alternative method as authorized by 501.2(e), proof of service must be made in the manner ordered by the court.
The return and any document to which it is attached must be filed with the court and may be filed electronically or by fax, if those methods of filing are available.
No default judgment may be granted in any case until proof of service as provided by this rule, or as ordered by the court in the event citation is executed by an alternative method under 501.2(e), has been on file with the clerk of the court 3 days, exclusive of the day of filing and the day of judgment.
Other than a citation or oral motions made during trial or when all parties are present, every notice required by these rules, and every pleading, plea, motion, application to the court for an order, or other form of request, must be served on all other parties in one of the following ways.
A copy may be delivered to the party to be served, or the party’s duly authorized agent or attorney of record, in person or by agent.
A copy may be sent by courier-receipted delivery or by certified or registered mail, to the party’s last known address. Service by certified or registered mail is complete when the document is properly addressed and deposited in the United States mail, postage prepaid.
A copy may be faxed to the recipient’s current fax number. Service by fax after 5 pm local time of the recipient will be deemed to have been served on the following day.
A copy may be sent to an email address expressly provided by the receiving party, if the party has consented to email service in writing. Service by email after 5:00 p.m. local time of the recipient will be deemed to have been served on the following day.
A copy may be delivered in any other manner directed by the court.
If a document is served by mail, 3 days will be added to the length of time a party has to respond to the document. Notice of any hearing requested by a party must be served on all other parties not less than 3 days before the time specified for the hearing.
Documents other than a citation may be served by a party to the suit, an attorney of record, a sheriff or constable, or by any other person competent to testify.
The party or the party’s attorney of record must include in writing on all documents filed a signed statement describing the manner in which the document was served on the other party or parties and the date of service. A certificate by a party or the party’s attorney of record, or the return of the officer, or the sworn statement of any other person showing service of a notice is proof of service.
A party may offer evidence or testimony that a notice or document was not received, or, if service was by mail, that it was not received within 3 days from the date of mailing, and upon so finding, the court may extend the time for taking the action required of the party or grant other relief as it deems just.