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Divorce Step 2: The Serve

Updated: Jan 7, 2020

If you missed Step 1 of the Divorce Process, go back and read about what is required to start your case. Step 2 is all about serving the Respondent (the other party in the case) with the Summons and Petition and any other other documents that you filed with the Court to start your case.


  1. You are required to serve blank forms for the other party to use to respond to your documents, for example, you will need to serve a blank FL-120 Response to Dissolution of Marriage. If you have filed an FL-105 UCCJEA, you will also have to serve a blank FL-105 UCCJEA. Note that if you have filed any attachments with your Petition like the FL-311, Fl-312, FL-160 or any other forms, you will need to serve blanks of those as well on the other party.


  1. Personal Service: This is when the documents are handed directly to the Respondent. The person who serves the documents must be an adult and cannot be you. You can have a friend or family member serve the documents or hire a process server. Process Servers charge between $80.00 to $120.00 and sometimes more depending on location/travel time any other factors that may make the serve more difficult.

  2. Substituted Service: It may be possible to serve the Respondent by Substituted Service if you have been unable to serve the Respondent in person. Whoever serves the documents can leave the paperwork with an adult, 18 years of age or older, at the Respondent's work or home address. You will also need the server prepare a Declaration of Due Dillegence stating the actions taken to first attempt personal service. The documents will also need to be mailed to the Respondent via First Class Mail.

  3. Mail and Acknowledgment of Receipt: This method is the easiest as long as the other party is willing to sign the Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt. The documents can be mailed to the other party, once received they will sign the Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt and mail it back to the server. The Notice and Acknowledgment or Receipt will then be filed along with the Proof of Service with the Court. This only works if the other party signs the form, it is a great alternative to personal service.

  4. Publication/Posting: This option is available to those who do not know where their spouse is. This is more involved and requires a Declaration of Due Dillegence in regard to what measures/actions have been taken to locate the Respondent. If you are granted the Order for Publication then you will have to pay for a newspaper to post the legal notice for 4 weeks, once this is done, the Court will consider the documents served. If you have been approved for a fee waiver, you may be able to Serve by Posting, instead of Publishing in the newspaper, you can post the documents at the Court for 28 days, once the time runs, the Respondent will be considered served.


  1. The first and most important is to have whoever served the documents on the Respondent to complete and file the Proof of Service with the Court.

  2. You must serve your Financial Disclosures on the other party within 60 days of filing the Petition. You can serve these documents with the Petition or you can wait and serve by mail or personal service after.

Once you have filed the Proof of Service, it is time to move on to Step 3 Financial Disclosures. I will discuss what is included in the Preliminary Disclosures, the forms and how to serve.

If you need any assistance with your divorce case, contact Diablo Document Preparation so we can help!

Diablo Document Preparation is not a law firm and Jessica Ward is not an Attorney. This article is for informational purposes only and is not to be relied upon as legal advice. We provide self-help services at your specific direction. We cannot give legal advice, represent you in court or select legal forms for you.

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