Should Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) be Red Carded for Serving Olivia Wilde Custody Papers While She Was On Stage?

Jason Sudeikis, known for his infamous role as soccer coach Ted Lasso, is going through a custody case with actress Olivia Wilde.  They have never been married.  They have two children, Otis and Daisy.   They have been co-parenting since 2020, without a court order.  That all changed recently.

Jason filed a custody action in court.  By rule, he is required to personally serve Olivia the documents.   Which is normally handled with the other parent agreeing to accept service.   In this situation, Jason served Oliva the legal papers while she was on stage!

Olivia was on stage at CinemaCon discussing her latest work as director of “Don’t Worry Darling”, when a man in the front row of the audience held up a manila envelope for her. She paused to ask, “Is this for me?” and took the envelope.

She glanced at the paperwork inside, said, “Okay, got it, thank you,” and continued the presentation, apparently unruffled. The public later learned the envelope contained legal documents regarding the couple’s contentious custody battle over their two children.

The Mundane Reality of Process Service

Proper service of legal documents is an essential step in any court case, but it’s rarely a dramatic or public affair. The media often misrepresents how process servers do their jobs. Showing process servers hiding legal documents in pizza boxes or dressing up as appliance repairmen to approach recipients. Making it look like deception and disguise are a routine part of the process. The infamous line, “You’ve been served!” is heard so frequently in legal dramas, some clients think it’s a requirement for legal process service (it isn’t).

In real life, a process server is just an ordinary (undisguised) person who knocks on a door and politely hands over paperwork. It’s not uncommon for a server to leave a business card or note at an intended recipient’s home, asking them to get in touch so they can deliver some legal documents. Most people are wise enough to cooperate with process servers, and delivery of documents is as uneventful as picking up the mail.

Avoiding Service – Why You Shouldn’t Do It

If you know a process server is trying to locate you, the best thing you can do is accept the papers and read them carefully. Receipt of the documents does not mean you have agreed to anything.  The documents simply mean you have been informed of critical information you need to respond to in the case.

Sometimes people mistakenly believe if they can avoid being served, they can prevent the entire lawsuit. This isn’t true and is a dangerous misconception. If the party bringing the action can prove you intentionally avoided service, causing them expense or delay, you could be ordered to reimburse them for the added cost. Worse yet, the court could eventually order service by publication, possibly meaning you don’t get an opportunity to read the documents or respond, and the other party could win by default.

Proper Service in Nevada

In Nevada, service of custody or divorce documents are usually made by the other parent accepting service by email.   In contentious cases, the other will likely need to be served by handing the paperwork directly to them.   To be valid service, the person who delivers the paperwork must be over 18 years old and not a party to the case. It does not have to be a professional process server, but it cannot be the parent starting the case.  Service can also be accomplished by leaving a copy with someone else who resides at the respondent’s residence, as long as they are over 18 and live there.

Occasionally, the recipient of legal documents will get angry and tear up the papers or throw them away in front of the server. This is a terrible idea because the service is still valid, and now the clock is ticking for your response.

Why Did Jason Have Olivia Served on Stage?

While it is understandable a process server may find it challenging to approach a celebrity like Olivia Wilde to give her paperwork, it is hard to imagine giving her the envelope in the middle of a speech was necessary.  Jason knows where she lives and could coordinate the delivery of the papers to her home.   This is assuming, Olivia or her attorney would not accept service through email.

The event was not open to the public, and everyone in the audience had been screened. Attending CinemaCon would have taken days or weeks of planning and preparation, and there must have been other chances to approach her there.

As for Jason’s role in the on-stage service, he claims he had no idea the process server would do that.  Which could be true.  Our clients rarely know the steps we go through to serve the other parent.

My guess is Olivia was unreasonably  refusing to accept service of the documents.  This caused Jason’s attorney to serve her at a public event.    My vote is to give them both a red card and a time out.   Both Jason and Olivia played a part in needing to serve her custody papers in a public setting.   If this was soccer, they both should be relegated to the minor leagues.