How To Serve California Divorce Papers

In this article (and video) we are discussing how to serve divorce papers in California.  This would be the next step in the divorce process in California after you have completed and filed your summons and petition.  If you have not prepared your divorce papers yet, go back to this article and watch step one on how to complete your summons and petition.

In this series of videos we are discussing how to prepare your divorce forms or going through the divorce process in its entirety per California court website, we’re essentially just going form by form and discussing each of the forms.

If you are attempting to complete your own divorce Make Sure To Use Our Automated Divorce Software or call us for our full service divorce solution where we will take care of everything for you.

In the previous video we talked about the initial forms to file for divorce, the summons and petition; we’ve also prepared videos to discuss exactly how to fill them out step-by-step.

This video is going to be discussing in serving of the forms. So, let’s take a look at the court website and look at what they consider to be step two of the divorce process which is service of the forms.

Below is a transcript of the video.

So what they’re saying here is that someone 18 or older and not the petitioner, so not you or the person who’s filed in the initial paperwork serves the paper work on the other party which is now, from here on out going to be called the respondent.

You file, or you serve rather, those documents along with a blank FL-120 form, which is a response form. Whenever you file, or whenever you serve documents, generally you’ll have to serve it with a blank copy of what they’re supposed to file in response to what you’ve filed.

We’ll talk about that in other videos. So, let’s talk about the two different forms of service. Now, when I work with clients, generally these are clients that are representing themselves; they don’t have an attorney, and they are generally uncontested matters, which means both parties are mostly in agreement or they’re going to use the court system to help them get them get through the process, either through the facilitator’s office or the mediators office.

But they’re not going to use attorneys; they’re going to kinda work it out on their own, and I’ll prepare the divorce paperwork for both parties.

So that said, there are two different types of service. The process of service of getting the forms served is what will initiate the divorce process, because technically you can file for divorce, never serve it, and the courts will never know what’s going on; so once you’ve served the forms that’s what will start the divorce process essentially, and that’s when the six-month waiting period begins.

It’s when that form is served. So it’s important that this is done correctly. I’ve spoken with clients who have gone, what they thought, all the way through the divorce process, but they never filed some of these crucial documents, so let’s talk about them now.

We’re going to talk about the FL-115. The FL-115 is the proof of service of summons. This is a specific form that you will file with the court if you are gonna have a third party serve the paperwork on your spouse.

So let’s say you filed the paperwork, got that paperwork back from the courts, now you’re going to have your adult son, or a neighbor hand this paperwork to your spouse. And so what you’ll do is that person will fill out their name and address here, phone number, okay, all the same court information is going to go on here like it did on the summons and petition on the previous videos; street address of the court, mailing address of the court, city, branch, name, you’re the petitioner, the respondent’s name.

At this point you’ll have your case number so make sure you indicate that here. And what you’re gonna say that here that you filed the Family Law petition FL-100. Summons FL-110, and a blank response, and there’s FL-120. You can get these forms online or give me a call if you have to provide it for you.

And the party who serves them, so your neighbor, adult child or whoever you have to serve this paperwork, is going to fill this out. You’re gonna hand this to them and they’re going to have the forms to your spouse, and then they’re going to type in here or hand out in here, where they were served, that is was done by a personal service, on what date at what time.

And page 2, they are going to go down here and say that that the notice of the person served was done as an individual, and the name of the person you served will go here, their address, their phone number, you’re gonna say they’re not a registered process server, due to most cases they won’t be, then they’re gonna date it, then they’re gonna sign it.

Now, this is important that this form is filed, this is not given to the other party; you’re gonna hand the divorce paperwork to your spouse, this form needs to get filed with the court to notify them that in fact, the other party has been served.

Now, in uncontested divorce cases, where let’s say you and you’re spouse are mostly in an agreement, you’re going to go forward in cooperation to the divorce process, what I like to do is attempt to do an alternate method of service, which kinda keeps things from heating up; no one like being handed paper from someone they don’t know, saying you’ve been served, which is this process here.

So, what we’re gonna discuss is this alternate method of service, called notice and acknowledgement of receipt. This is an alternate proof of service where you and the other party, so your spouse, simply sign a form acknowledging the fact that they’ve been served.

So instead of them being handed paperwork and being told they are being served divorce paperwork, you can literally, this is technically supposed to be mailed from another party, so where I’m working with both husband and wife, I’ll get the papers back from the court, I’ll mail this to the other spouse with a letter indicating that if they sign this they don’t have a process server come out, it takes money.

So you fill this out for them,and I’ll indicate the form’s again, just very similar to the other form, there’s petition, summons, and a blank response is on here. So you can send this to them, I would date this, then I’d put my name, then send this; and then the spouse being served will simply indicate the date they’ve received it, print their name and sign it.

And this, just like the other form, will be filed with the court. And this is a substitute of service; it’s just as good as serving with a process server. And again this makes it, in trying to keep it uncontested, and keeping the parties talking and cordial as they can be; it is a divorce, so there are gonna be some … this is the form we’ll be likely used.

My name is Tim Blankenship, owner of SCV Legal Doc Assist, licensed and bonded legal document preparation firm, specializing in the divorce process, and we can work with you all throughout California.