Using Substituted Service Of California Divorce Papers

Using Substituted Service Of California Divorce Papers

This video discusses what service by substituted service, when you would use it and how it works. Substituted service of your California divorce papers is usually a last resort and can only by achieved in certain circumstances.

There are several ways to serve a divorce petition in California. First, you have “personal service” This is where you have someone other than yourself personally deliver the divorce petition to the person being served and they are handed the papers. This can be a friend, relative or in many cases a 3rd party process service that can handle this for you.

Another route in amicable divorce cases is to simply have the the other party sign a Notice Of Acknowledgment of Receipt. This is an easy way to let the courts know that the other party was served or in this case, that they have acknowledged receiving a copy of the filed divorce papers.

But what happens when the person you are trying to serve is either unavailable or, what is more likely, trying to avoid being served?

We have this happen once and a while and the only way to serve them is usually by substituted service.

Substituted service, often referred to as “sub-served” is the practice of serving someone other than the person being served. So you are serving someone such as another family member or even a person of a business they work at such as their employer or even a front end person like the receptionist.

I can think of two such instances that just this week we had to serve by substituted service. The first was a Respondent to the divorce case who was trying to avoid being served for whatever reason. We found out where he worked (on Facebook no less) and were able to sub-serve him there. In this case we were able to serve his boss once it was determined that he did work there.

Another instance was a young man who was purposely avoiding being served to be a nuisance. The servers tried to serve him several times, and despite being able to hear him in the house and garage, he would not present himself to be served.

In this case, they went back late at night, when his parents were home and served his parents who verified that he lived there.

No there are specific rules you have to follow in order for a sub-service to be valid with the courts. The short story is that you have to make several documented attempts at serving and only then can you sub serve. But even then, you have have to write a special declaration that explains the steps you took to actually serve the other party. The court has to approve your steps in order for the substituted service to be valid.

When we know service may possibly be an issue, we always use a 3rd party professional process server as they know how to properly document the substituted service of the divorce papers in a way that will be approved.