Civil Process Division

Under Massachusetts law, county sheriffs and their deputies are required to serve (deliver) documents issued by the courts. In the Hampshire District, this is accomplished through the Sheriff's Civil Process Division.

1 Village Hill Road, Unit 103A
P.O. Box 684
Northampton MA 01060
8:30am-4pm Monday-Friday
(413) 585-0618
(413) 585-0152

The Civil Process Division serves legal documents in Hampshire County under sections 11 and 12 of Chapter 37 of the General Laws. The staff and sheriff are committed to excellence and to working diligently to maintain the highest level of professionalism in carrying out this statutory mandate.


Legal Time Limit for Service

  1. Summons and complaints must be served within ninety days after they are filed at the Clerk of Courts’ Office which is done before the service comes to the deputy.
  2. Show cause notice must be served at least seven days prior to the court date.
  3. Probate contempt must be served at least seven days prior to the court date.
  4. Probate motions must be served before 4:30 p.m., at least seven days prior to the court date.
  5. A probate citation must be served at least fourteen days prior to the court date.
  6. The supplementary process must be served at least seven days prior to court date.
  7. A summary process writ must be served at least seven days prior to the entry-filing date.
  8. Thirty day notices must be served at least thirty days prior to the first day or date rent is due of the following month. Deputy must be aware of months that have less than thirty days and serve the notice accordingly. There are many different types of writs of attachment, and one thing that they all have in common is that they must be served within thirty days after issuance.
  9. Forty-eight hour notices must be served at least forty-eight hours prior to beginning a Court ordered eviction, If an eviction is scheduled for a Monday, then the forty-eight hour notice is to be served by Thursday of the prior week. The court wants the defendants to be able to get into court if they feel they need to.

Probate Process

  1. A libel divorce consists of divorce papers.
  2. A probate contempt is a summons ordering a defendant into court to answer charges of being in contempt of a probate order.
  3. Probate modification is a summons notifying a party to a case that one side wants to modify a probate order.
  4. A paternity summons is for the purpose of establishing if the defendant is a birth parent of a child as claimed by the plaintiff.
  5. A support summons is to establish child support.
  6. A separate support summons to establish spousal support.
  7. Probate motions notify a party to appear in court for a specific probate hearing.
  8. Custody orders are orders to give custody from one person to another.


An execution is a judgment rendered against a defendant.

  1. A demand on execution for money judgment is when the deputy makes a demand on the defendant for the amount owed on a judgment plus post-judgment interest and sheriff's fees and poundage.
  2. An asset seizure on executions means that a deputy can seize non-exempt personal property of a defendant on execution for money judgment if defendant refuses to pay on demand.
  3. Trustee execution is an execution issued against the defendant and the trustee, ordering the trustee to turn over the assets of the defendant that were being held at the time of service of the summons to trustee, to the sheriff.
  4. Real estate levy or seizures is the recording of an execution for the purpose of putting a lien on a defendant’s specific property.
  5. A sheriff’s sale on executions is a public auction by the sheriff of a defendant’s real or personal property that has been seized and levied on execution.


An attachment is an order from the court to attach property, real or personal, of the defendant.

  1. A bulk attachment is bulky goods that are too big to be removed.
  2. Keeper attachments are court approval to appoint a keeper to take control of a defendant’s assets.
  3. Motor vehicle attachments are an order to remove from a defendant a specific motor vehicle, which will be safely stored until the outcome of the case.
  4. A real estate attachment puts a lien on real estate of a defendant.
  5. A trustee attachment is a summons attaching assets being held by a third party.


  1. Summons and complaints are the initiation of a law suit.
  2. A supplementary process, or judgment debtor sums, orders the defendant into court to examine their ability to pay a judgment.
  3. A subpoena orders a witness to court to testify their knowledge in a case.
  4. Deposition subpoenas order a witness to give a deposition of facts concerning a case.
  5. A notice of taking deposition notifies a witness that a deposition is being held.
  6. A summons to trustee is a summons to a third party holding the assets of another, instructing the third party to freeze part or all of the assets in their possession at the time of service.
  7. A capias warrant is a civil arrest warrant for contempt of court.

Summary Process

  1. A fourteen-day notice, required by law, to be given to a tenant or tenants, informing them that they have fourteen days to pay rent or the landlord will go to court.
  2. A thirty-day notice, required by law, to be given to a tenant or tenants, thirty days before the next rent is due, informing them that the landlord wants possession of the premises.
  3. A ten-day notice given to a tenant or tenants to move from a premises, which is usually given for drug arrest/conviction or trespassers.
  4. A summary process wit is a legal document requiring a tenant or tenants to appear in court to answer the charges of the landlord.
  5. A forty-eight hour legal notice required by law, served on a tenant or tenants at least forty-eight hours prior to a court ordered residential eviction. The notice must contain the date, and time of the eviction, and the deputy name.
  6. Housing court motions notify parties to appear in court for a specific hearing.
  7. Pre-eviction talk-outs are as soon as an execution for possession has been issued and placed in a deputy's hands for enforcement, some offices extend a courtesy of giving the defendant an opportunity to move out on their own. This is not required but does save clients’ money if defendant moves.