Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Sheriff's Office

Civil Process

The Civil Process Unit is a sub-division of the Supports Services Division of the Dane County Sheriff's Office. The unit is comprised of a small clerical staff and seven uniformed deputies, (two for evictions/executions and five assigned to serve legal papers within the City of Madison and throughout Dane County). The primary function of the civil process unit is the "service of process."

Only papers to be served within Dane County will be accepted for service. The exception being a copy of a restraining order (TRO) or injunction to be served out of the county if filed in Dane County. In this case, a copy needs to be entered and filed in the Dane County Communication Center (911).


Papers for service will be accepted at the Sheriff's Office Civil process window at the following times:

Business Hours: Monday to Friday (Excluding Holidays) 

In Person/Window Hours: 8am to 4pm
Phone Hours: 7:45 AM - 4:30 PM


Service of papers is generally attempted the next business day after our office receives the order. It may take a day or two longer depending on the backlog of documents received for the first attempt to be made and anywhere from several days to several weeks to process after service is completed (also depending on the backlog).

What is Civil Process?

Civil process is defined as "the writ or mandate that serves as the means used for bringing a defendant to court to answer in an action or proceeding, civil or criminal." It is the responsibility of the Sheriff's Office to serve and execute according to law, all processes, writs, precepts, and orders issued or made by the lawful authority according to Wisconsin State Statute 59.27 (4).

In a broader sense, any writ, order, notice, summons, subpoena, or other documents by which a court exercises its jurisdiction over the parties or subject matter of any action or proceeding is called a process. The Dane County Sheriff's Office serves an average of sixteen thousand process papers a year along with posting notices throughout the county for foreclosed property.