Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I obtain legal forms necessary to bring a case to court?

Most forms are obtained from the Clerk of Courts Office located in the courthouse or on their website. Most forms are free, but there are filing fees.

I have papers to serve on a person. Where do I bring them?

Papers can be brought to the Civil Process Unit of the Dane County Sheriff's Office located at 115 W Doty St, Public Safety Building, Second Floor. Private process service can be used as well for most papers to be served. You can check the yellow pages of the phone book under “Process Servers” for listings in the area. Note that process servers generally have service hours and costs that differ from the Sheriff’s Office ,so it’s best to contact them directly if you decide to use someone else.

How many copies do I bring with me?

One copy for each person/company to be served (authenticated or one with an official court stamp) and one extra copy for the Sheriff to use and return back with the affidavits of service attached. Some papers served do not need to be authenticated so if you aren’t sure you may need to contact Civil Process.

Can you help me fill out my court papers?

No. The Sheriff's Office will only check papers to make sure they are legible (readable) and accurate.

Can I call someone with a legal question?

The Sheriff's Office is not allowed to give legal advice of any kind whatsoever. You may contact an attorney for legal advice. If you cannot afford an attorney, programs are held in the Dane County Courthouse, 215 S Hamilton St, Madison WI . See Resources for these programs.

Can you go to the person's workplace and serve them the papers there?

Many employers request that we do not come to their company for the purpose of serving papers. Serving papers at a company often results in loss of production for the company. The person receiving the papers may become emotional, and the company may not have the resources to deal with this type of situation. Additionally, the actual job site that the employee is at may be different from the company's headquarters, and locating the employee may be difficult. If it is possible to get service at the workplace and it is allowed, it may be served there. In some cases, you may only know the work address so the deputy will attempt service if possible or try to make contact by phone.

I don't have a recent address for the person I want served papers. Will the Sheriff's Office tell me where the person lives?

No. The Sheriff's Office will not provide an address. You will need a current, physical address in order for us to attempt service.

I know the person will be at a specific location at a specific time. Can you serve them there?

We will attempt to accommodate this, but it can be very difficult to "schedule" an officer to be somewhere at a specific time. We would like to have at least a half hour time period to attempt service. (Ex: Say you know for sure the person will be home at 5p.m., you should say between 5:00 p.m. and 5:30p.m. or between 5p.m. and 7p.m. etc.)

I need the person to be served right away. Can you serve the papers immediately?

The Civil Process Unit handles on average over fifteen thousand legal papers annually. We attempt to serve papers as efficiently as possible, but we cannot promise that a paper will be served immediately or in a specific time period. We suggest that you allow us sufficient time to locate and serve the person their papers. Some documents require papers to be served within a specific time frame so if you are uncertain, please call us to make sure you have enough time for the paper to be served.

The Aid in Serving Papers Form asks for specific information I am not sure of. What do I do?

Answer the questions as completely as you can. All information you provide helps us to serve the papers as efficiently as possible.

Why can't you give the papers to someone else when you first go to the house?

There are many types of legal papers. Some papers require "personal" service meaning the papers must be served on the person who's named on the papers. Other papers can be given (substitute service) to someone else at the residence (at least fourteen years of age). Speak with someone in the Civil Process Unit if you have further questions.

Why can't you put the papers in the mailbox or between the doors?

We do not mail them or leave them in a mailbox or in between the doors because the statutes require papers to be served on a person. If this can’t be accomplished after three diligent attempts of service, then a no-found of service is returned back with the papers.