HOW TO SERVE DIVORCE PAPERS
One of the first things that must happen when a couple decides to divorce is to determine who will file a Petition with the court and pay a $435 filing fee to the court or request a fee waiver. After the Petition is filed, it must be “served” on the other spouse or parent. The method you choose to serve divorce papers can set the tone for the rest of the divorce. Let’s suppose you take the litigation route, for instance: Most litigating attorneys automatically tend to hire a process server who will personally serve the Petition on the other spouse at their work or home. Serving divorce papers on your spouse at their workplace might be interpreted as a hostile act. In some cases, this move alone can shut down any potential communication from the other spouse, which leads to long-drawn court battles. However, there is a better way to “serve” a Petition on your spouse.
A better way to serve divorce papers
In California, you can “peacefully” serve divorce papers using a form called a “Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt,” which is mailed to the Respondent, along with the filed Petition packet and a self-addressed stamped envelope. All the Respondent has to do is sign and date the Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt and mail it back in the self-addressed stamped envelope within 30 days of receiving it. The date the Respondent marks on this form becomes the official date of when the Respondent was served with the Petition. Some courthouses require that a Proof of Service of Summons be attached to that form; other courthouses accept the Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt without a Proof of Service. Peacemaking lawyers use this form instead of using process servers. This method of serving divorce papers sets a more amicable tone at the beginning of the case, especially if it is accompanied by a non-threatening cover letter.
If you don’t know the address of your ex or can’t locate them, give us a call at 626-351-1200
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS ON HOW TO SERVE DIVORCE PAPERS
- Note that the Petitioner cannot be the same person who serves the Petition packet.
- Divorce papers must be served by someone other than the Petitioner, who is 18 years of age.
- It’s not a good idea to have adult children of the spouses serve the Petition.
- Never bring the kids into the middle of the divorce, as it can be very damaging to the family dynamic.
- The forms must be completed properly regardless of how the Petition is served, or they may need to be amended and refiled.