When you are planning to file for divorce, there are many important elements that go into the process. One of the most crucial steps is serving the other party with divorce papers. 

Specifically, you will need to serve your spouse with the Summons and Petition of Dissolution, any other papers you have filed with the court, along with a blank Response form. Giving the other party these documents is known as the “service of process.” 

This is a crucial element in the process of divorce. From the time that your spouse is served, there is a deadline by which they must respond

Under California state law, the service of process can be done  in person or by mail. If service is done in person, someone physically hands the papers to the other party. With service by mail, the divorce papers and a Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt must be mailed to your spouse.

Who Can Serve Divorce Papers? 

In most instances, the filing party can choose to have a party act as a process server and present the divorce papers to the other spouse. Alternatively, they can hire a professional process server to handle this step.

No specific training is needed to serve divorce papers. You can select any family member or adult friend to serve the other party with the relevant paperwork.

The only requirement is that the serving party cannot have a vested interest in the outcome of the case. If you believe that your spouse will react angrily or violently, it is best to hire a professional process server. 

Hiring Professional Servers

A professional process server can be an independent worker or an employee of a service agency. 

When you hire them, the professional server will request the relevant divorce paperwork. You should provide them with copies of the same divorce papers that you filed with the court.

You will also need to give the server some personal information about the party being served. This will help them to locate and identify your spouse.

Typical examples of required personal information include:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Place of work
  • Vehicles that they drive

The professional process server will personally hand the relevant divorce papers to your partner. This will ensure that your spouse receives them and is compelled to respond.

A process server may also need a recent photograph of your spouse. This will help them to guarantee that they are serving the papers to the right person.

What to Do When a Spouse Tries to Evade Service

Every relationship dynamic is unique. Some relationships are more contentious than others. Because of this, some spouses attempt to avoid being served with divorce papers in an attempt to prevent the process from moving forward.

This is known as “evading service.” Unfortunately, this avoidance strategy is not uncommon. 

If you know that your spouse is avoiding service of process, you should hire a professional server. You can also request help from a law enforcement officer in serving divorce papers.

No one can evade service forever. Once your spouse has been served, the server must complete a form to prove that they delivered the relevant divorce documentation. This form is known as the “Proof of Service.”

The Proof of Service form is then submitted to the California family courts as evidence that your spouse received notice of the divorce. 

Not every divorce case requires the service of process. But in many instances, the serving party will need to submit a formal notice to their spouse announcing the impending divorce. 

When both parties are planning a divorce together, however, no formal service of process needs to take place.

Speaking with a Family Law Attorney

If you are planning to serve your spouse with divorce papers, it can be helpful to talk with an experienced attorney. A legal professional can help to ensure that service of process happens effectively.

For more information, call our law firm at (619) 866-3756 or reach out to us via email by visiting our contact us page.