Step 3: 'Serve' Your Response Forms
(Give the Other Person Copies)
California law requires that your spouse or partner be given (served) a copy of any forms you file with the court. However, you cannot serve the papers yourself. The way to get forms served properly is as follows:
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:
- Personal Service (A person over 18 who is not involved in this case hands copies of the forms to your spouse or partner)
- Service by Mail (A person over 18 who is not involved in this case mails copies of the forms to your spouse or partner by first class mail )
To view a short video called “Service of Process”, click here.
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:
- Either form FL-120 (if you are responding to a petition for divorce) or
- Form FL-123 (if you are responding to a petition to dissolve your registered domestic partnerships)
- Any temporary orders you may have asked the court for
- Any property declarations you may have filed
- If you have children:
- Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) (Form FL-105)
See the instructions for this form.
NOTE: If your spouse or partner sent you a Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt (Form FL-117) and an envelope with first class postage and a return address, you are to sign, date, and return this form to your spouse or partner (keep a copy for your records). You can send it back at the same time as you serve your Response.
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.
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