RULE 4:4. Process

4:4-1. Summons; Issuance

The plaintiff, plaintiff's attorney or the clerk of the court may issue the summons. If a summons is not issued within 15 days from the date of the Track Assignment Notice, the action may be dismissed in accordance with R. 4:37-2(a). Separate or additional summonses may issue against any defendants.

Note: Source-R.R. 4:4-1; amended July 13, 1994 to be effective September 1, 1994; amended July 12, 2002 to be effective September 3, 2002.

4:4-2. Summons: Form

Except as otherwise provided by R. 5:4-1(b) (summary proceedings in family actions), the face of the summons shall be in the form prescribed by Appendix XII-A to these Rules. It shall be in the name of the State, signed in the name of the Superior Court Clerk and directed to the defendant. It shall contain the name of the court and the plaintiff and the name and address of the plaintiff's attorney, if any, otherwise the plaintiff's address, and the time within which these rules require the defendant to serve an answer upon the plaintiff or plaintiff's attorney, and shall notify the defendant that if he or she fails to answer, judgment by default may be rendered for the relief demanded in the complaint. It shall also inform the defendant of the necessity to file an answer and proof of service thereof with the deputy clerk of the Superior Court in the county of venue, except in mortgage and tax foreclosure actions an answer shall be filed with the Clerk of the Superior Court in Trenton unless and until the action is deemed contested and the papers have been sent by the Clerk to the county of venue in which event an answer shall be filed with the deputy clerk of the Superior Court in the county of venue. If the defendant is an individual resident in this state, the summons shall advise that if he or she is unable to obtain an attorney, he or she may communicate with the Lawyer Referral Service of the county of his or her residence, or the county in which the action is pending, or, if there is none in either county, the Lawyer Referral Service of an adjacent county. The summons shall also advise defendant that if he or she cannot afford an attorney, he or she may communicate with the Legal Services Office of the county of his or her residence or the county in which the action is pending or the Legal Services of New Jersey statewide toll free hotline at 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529). If the defendant is an individual not resident in this State, the summons shall similarly advise him or her, directing the defendant, however, to the appropriate agency in the county in which the action is pending. The reverse side or second page of the summons shall contain a current listing, by county, of telephone numbers of the Legal Services Office and the Lawyer Referral Office serving each county and the Legal Services of New Jersey statewide toll free hotline at 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529), which list shall be updated regularly by the Administrative Office of the Courts and made available to legal forms publishers and to any person requesting such list.

Note: Source - R.R. 4:4-2; amended November 27, 1974 to be effective April 1, 1975; amended July 29, 1977 to be effective September 6, 1977; amended July 21, 1980 to be effective September 8, 1980; amended July 16, 1981 to be effective September 14, 1981; amended December 20, 1983 to be effective December 31, 1983; amended June 29, 1990 to be effective September 4, 1990; amended July 13, 1994 to be effective September 1, 1994; amended June28, 1996 to be effective September 1, 1996; amended July 10, 1998 to be effective September 1, 1998; amended July 23, 2010 to be effective September 1, 2010.

4:4-3. By Whom Served; Copies

Note: Source-R.R. 4:4-3, 5:5-1(c), 5:2-2; amended July 14, 1992 to be effective September 1, 1992; paragraph (b) amended July 13, 1994 to be effective September 1, 1994; captions and text of paragraphs (a) and (b) deleted and replaced with new captions and text July 5, 2000 to be effective September 5, 2000; paragraph (c) added July 12, 2002 to be effective September 3, 2002.

4:4-4. Summons; Personal Service; In Personam Jurisdiction

Service of summons, writs and complaints shall be made as follows:

Note: Source - R.R. 4:4-4. Paragraph (a) amended July 7, 1971 to be effective September 13, 1971; paragraphs (a) and (b) amended July 14, 1972 to be effective September 5, 1972; paragraph (f) amended July 15, 1982 to be effective September 13, 1982; paragraph (e) amended July 26, 1984 to be effective September 10, 1984; paragraph (a) amended November 1, 1985 to be effective January 2, 1986; paragraphs (a), (f) and (g) amended November 5, 1986 to be effective January 1, 1987; paragraph (i) amended November 2, 1987 to be effective January 1, 1988; paragraph (e) amended November 7, 1988 to be effective January 2, 1989; paragraphs (a) and (b) amended July 14, 1992 to be effective September 1, 1992; text deleted and new text substituted July 13, 1994 to be effective September 1, 1994; paragraph (c) amended July 5, 2000 to be effective September 5, 2000; paragraphs (a)(3), (b)(1)(A), (b)(1)(C), and (c) amended July 12, 2002 to be effective September 3, 2002; paragraph (a) amended July 9, 2008 to be effective September 1, 2008; paragraph (b)(1) amended July 23, 2010 to be effective September 1, 2010.

4:4-5. Summons; Service on Absent Defendants; In Rem or Quasi In Rem Jurisdiction

Note: Source - R.R. 4:4-5(a)(b)(c)(d), 4:30-4(b) (second sentence). Paragraph (c) amended July 7, 1971 to be effective September 13, 1971; paragraph (c) amended July 14, 1972 to be effective September 5, 1972; amended July 24, 1978 to be effective September 11, 1978; paragraph (b) amended November 7, 1988 to be effective January 2, 1989; paragraphs (a) (b) (c) (d) amended July 13, 1994 to be effective September 1, 1994; paragraph (c) amended June 28, 1996 to be effective September 1, 1996; introductory paragraph amended, paragraph (c) amended, and portion of paragraph (c) relocated as closing paragraph of rule July 9, 2008 to be effective September 1, 2008; introductory paragraph designated as paragraph (a), paragraph (a) caption adopted, former paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) redesignated as subparagraphs (a)(1), (a)(2), and (a)(3), former subparagraphs (c)(1), (c)(2), (c)(3), and (c)(4) redesignated as subparagraphs (a)(3)(A), (a)(3)(B), (a)(3)(C), and (a)(3)(D), former paragraph (d) redesignated as subparagraph (a)(4), concluding paragraph designated as paragraph (b), and paragraph (b) caption adopted July 23, 2010 to be effective September 1, 2010.

4:4-6. General Appearance; Acknowledgment of Service

A general appearance or an acceptance of the service of a summons, signed by the defendant's attorney or signed and acknowledged by the defendant (other than an infant or mentally incapacitated person), shall have the same effect as if the defendant had been properly served.

Note: Source-R.R. 4:4-6; amended July 17, 1975 to be effective September 8, 1975; amended July 12, 2002 to be effective September 3, 2002.

4:4-7. Return

The person serving the process shall make proof of service thereof on the original process and on the copy.  Proof of service shall be promptly filed with the court within the time during which the person served must respond thereto either by the person making service or by the party on whose behalf service is made.  The proof of service, which shall be in a form prescribed by the Administrative Director of the Courts, shall state the name of the person served and the place, mode and date of service, and a copy thereof shall be forthwith furnished plaintiff's attorney by the person serving process.  If service is made upon a member of the household pursuant to R. 4:4-4 that person's name shall be stated in the proof or, if such name cannot be ascertained, the proof shall contain a description of the person upon whom service was made.  If service is made by a person other than a sheriff or a court appointee, proof of service shall be by similar affidavit which shall include the facts of the affiant's diligent inquiry regarding defendant's place of abode, business or employment.  If service is made by mail, the party making service shall make proof thereof by affidavit which shall also include the facts of the failure to effect personal service and the facts of the affiant's diligent inquiry to determine defendant's place of abode, business or employment.  With the proof shall be filed the affidavit or affidavits of inquiry, if any, required by R. 4:4-4 and R. 4:4-5.  Where service is made by registered or certified mail and simultaneously by regular mail, the return receipt card, or the printout of the electronic confirmation of delivery, which shall include an image of the recipient’s signature, provided by the U.S. Postal Service, or the unclaimed registered or certified mail shall be filed as part of the proof.  A party making service by registered or certified mail and simultaneously by regular mail may file a photocopy of the return receipt card in lieu of the original return receipt card as the proof of service but only if the original is unavailable.  Failure to make proof of service does not affect the validity of service.

Note: Source R.R. 4:4-7. Amended July 14, 1972 to be effective September 5, 1972; amended June 29, 1990 to be effective September 4, 1990; amended July 14, 1992 to be effective September 1, 1992; amended July 13, 1994 to be effective September 1, 1994; amended July 10, 1998 to be effective September 1, 1998; amended July 12, 2002 to be effective September 3, 2002; amended July 23, 2010 to be effective September 1, 2010; amended July 19, 2012 to be effective September 4, 2012.

4:4-8. Amendment

The person serving the process may file an additional or amended proof of service within the time provided by R. 4:4-7. The court may thereafter allow any process or proof of service thereof to be amended upon such terms as it deems appropriate unless such amendment would materially prejudice the rights of the party against whom process issued.

Note: Source-R.R. 4:4-8.