If you’re like many people going through a divorce, or if you’re just thinking about it and haven’t filed any paperwork yet, you’re wondering how to serve divorce papers in California.
For most people, it makes sense to work with a Stockton divorce attorney who handles all the logistics – including service of process, which is the technical term for serving someone divorce papers. But that aside, here’s what you need to know about serving divorce papers in California.
How to Serve Divorce Papers in California
If you intend to serve your spouse with divorce papers, you have several options, including:
- Personal service
- Service by mail
- Service by notice and acknowledgement of receipt
- Service by publication or service by posting (in very rare instances)
- Substituted service
Personal Service of Divorce Papers in California
Personal service means a person serves your soon-to-be ex with divorce papers by placing them in his or her hands. There are several ways to go about personal service, including:
- Serving them yourself
- Having a friend or relative, or a coworker, serve your spouse
- Having a county sheriff or marshal serve your spouse
- Hiring a professional process server
- Asking anyone who’s over 18 who is not part of the case to serve your spouse
In every case, the person serving the papers on your spouse must:
- Be 18 or older
- Not be party to the case
- Fill out a proof of service form
- Give you the proof of service form to you so you can file it with the court
Service by Mail for Divorce Papers
Service by mail requires someone who isn’t a party to the case. This person mails the documents to the other party – and while it’s simple (just drop the paperwork into the mail), it’s not very reliable
Service by Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt
If the other party agrees to be served by mail, and if he or she is willing to sign a document saying that the papers came as expected, you can use this method. The server has to mail the summons and complaint to the other party with two copies of a form called a Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt. The other party signs a copy of the receipt and sends it back. Then, the server has to take a few additional steps.
Service by Publication or Service by Posting
You have to have the court’s permission for service by publication or service by posting. The first – service by publication – involves you publishing the summons and complaint in a newspaper in the area where your ex is likely to be. Service by posting involves you posting the summons and complaint at the courthouse. You only use these methods if you can’t find your spouse.
Both of these methods require you to get a judge’s permission, and they’re not usually used. However, the California family court system does have procedures in place for you to file these types of papers when you don’t know where your spouse is.
Usually, substituted service is one of the last methods someone can try. It usually only happens after several attempts at personal service have failed.
Learn About All Your Options. Talk to a Stockton Divorce Lawyer Now.
Working with a Stockton divorce attorney means you don’t have to worry about which method to use and how to do it properly – your lawyer can give you the guidance you need for your specific situation.
If you’re thinking about divorce, or if your ex has already filed, we can help you.
Call us at (209) 989-4425 or get in touch with us online to talk to a lawyer right now. We’ll help you with every aspect of your divorce, from child custody and child support to alimony and property division.