Step 3: 'Serve' Your Court Forms (Give the Other Person Copies)
California law requires that your spouse or partner be given formal notice that you have started a divorce or dissolution of a registered domestic partnership case. This is called "service of process," and it is very important. In fact, the judge cannot make any decisions until the other spouse or partner has been properly "served."
To view a short video called “Service of Process”, click here.
YOU CANNOT SERVE THE COURT PAPERS YOURSELF.
Who can serve the court papers?
Someone over 18 (for example a friend, relative, the Sheriff, or a professional process server) who is not involved in the case in any way must serve the court forms for you.
How are court forms served?
There are two ways copies of the documents filed with the court can be "served". These are:
What Needs to Be Served?
Your spouse or partner must be served a copy of ALL of the forms filed with the court. This includes:
Who has to be served?
For example, you must serve the welfare office if you, your spouse or partner, or a child of this relationship is on welfare (or has applied for welfare and you are waiting for it to start.)
If any of you is receiving (or has applied for) welfare, you must also serve a copy of your filed forms on the local child support agency's office in the county where the benefits are being paid. (The local child support agency can be served by mail.)
You may need to consult an attorney:
There are special rules you must follow if you are having a difficult time serving the court forms. For this reason, you might consider hiring an attorney to help you if:
After the papers have been served:
The person who serves the court forms must fill out the:
Once this is finished, he or she will give you the form, and you must make and keep one copy for yourself, and file the original copy of this form with the court.
For information on how to do this, click here.
ALERT! Your case will be delayed if you do not serve your spouse or partner, or do not file the "Proof of Service" with the court.