To start a case in Family Court, you must file a petition. A petition is when you ask the court to make a decision about something. The person who starts a case is called the petitioner. The person on the other side of the case is called the respondent. After you file a petition, the respondent must be told about the case.
You do this by having the court papers handed directly to the respondent. This is called personal service. It can also be called giving the respondent notice of the case. The court has very strict rules about how to serve papers. If papers are not served correctly, your case will not move forward.