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Service of process

Service of process:

There are two common ways to accomplish “service of process” One way is “personal service” which is when you have someone that is over 18 years old (besides you) personally hand your spouse copies of the Summons, Petition, and blank Response and then fill out a “Proof of Service of Summons” (FL-115) form. The person doing the service could be a friend or a relative or you can hire a profession process server to serve the papers. The second method of “service of process” is to use a “Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt” (FL-117) via mail. Both methods are discussed below.

Proof of Service of Summons (FL-115)

When you have someone hand the Summons, Petition, and blank Response to your spouse, this is called “personal service”. You cannot serve the papers on your spouse yourself because you are a party to the divorce action and parties to the action can’t serve papers. You need someone else that is at least 18 years old. You can have a friend or a relative hand your spouse the papers. If you wish, you can hire a professional process server. A professional process server will charge you around $75 (sometimes more) to serve the papers. You can Google “process server” and find a list of process servers in your area. However, if you are going to have an uncontested divorce, your spouse should be cooperating with you and there should be no need to hire a professional process server. Just contact your spouse and find out when it will be convenient for them to be home to receive the paperwork. Then, have a friend or relative serve the papers. After the papers have been served, fill out the FL-115 form and then have the person that served the papers date and sign the form. Click the “Court Forms” button on the homepage to go to our Court Forms Database where you will find both an example of a completed FL-115 using the personal service method and a blank FL-115 form that you can fill in, save, and print. There are two completed versions of the FL-115 in our database. One of the completed versions is for the “personal service method” while the other completed version is for the “Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt” method (discussed next).

DOWNLOAD FORM FL-115

Service of process by means of the Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt form (FL117)

Another way to serve your spouse with the Summons, Petition, and blank Response is to use a form known as a “Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt” (FL-117). This is a form you prepare, but your spouse signs. When your spouse signs the form, he or she is acknowledging that he or she received copies of the Summons, Petition, and a blank Response form. Click the “Court Forms” button on the homepage to go to our Court Forms Database where you will find both an example of a completed FL-117 and a blank FL-117 that you can fill out, save, and print. After you fill out the FL-117 form, you cannot mail it to your spouse because, as a party to the action, you cannot serve the Summons or Petition. Find a friend or a relative over that is at least 18 years old that is willing to date and sign the FL-117 form and put the form, along with copies of the Summons, Petition, and a blank Response, in the mail addressed to your spouse. You also have to include a stamped, self-addressed return envelope. When your spouse receives the forms, he or she dates and signs the FL-117 near the bottom of the form. Then, your spouse mails the signed FL-117 back to you in the stamped envelope that you provided. They have now been served.

You will also need to complete a “Proof Of Service Of Summons” form (FL-115). On the FL-115, instead of filling out the information for box 3(a), which is for personal service, you will fill out the information for box 3(c), which is for service by mail and acknowledgment of receipt. After you fill out the FL-115, attach the completed FL-117. Click the “Court Forms” button on the homepage to go to our Court Forms Database for an example of a completed FL-115 using the Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt method.

 

DOWNLOAD FORM FL-117

After you have completed your proof of service form(s)

If your case is going to be a “contested divorce” or a “true default divorce”, after you have completed your “Proof of Service of Summons” (FL-115), make two copies and file the original and copies with the court clerk.

If your case is going to be an uncontested divorce or a “default with an agreement” divorce, set the “Proof of Service of Summons” form aside for now. The FL-115 (and the FL-117 if you used the Notice “Acknowledgment of Receipt” method of service), will be filed with the court at the same time you file your divorce judgment.

No need for your spouse to file a Response with the court: After your spouse has been served with the Summons and Petition, if the two of you are going to be able to work together and reach a negotiated settlement on all issues, then your case can proceed as an “uncontested divorce” or a “default with an agreement” case and there will be no need for your spouse to fill out his or her Response form (FL-120) and file it with the court.

If your spouse wants to fill out the Response (FL-120) and file it with the court, then your spouse will have to pay the”first paper” filing fee (currently $435), unless he or she qualifies for a fee waiver. If you and your spouse are going to be able to reach a negotiated settlement so your case will be uncontested, there is no need for your spouse to file a Response with the court and there is a way for your spouse to avoid the “first paper” filing fee. The method for your spouse to avoid paying the “first paper” filing fee is explained in another section of this website. [See “Judgment“, then sub-topic, “Additional Forms“, and then the section entitled, “Processing a judgment as a default case with an agreement“].

If your case is going to be an uncontested case, your spouse does not need to worry about the notice printed on the Summons that says your spouse has 30 calendar days after the Summons and Petition are served in which to file the Response. You and your spouse can ignore the 30 day time limit if your case is going to be uncontested. The court won’t, on its own, do anything after the 30 days passes.

If your case is going to be a contested case because you and your spouse are not going to be able to work together and reach a negotiated settlement, then the 30 day rule is going to apply and your spouse should file their Response (FL-120) with the court within the 30 days, otherwise you could take their default. How to take your spouse’s default is discussed in another section of this website. [See “True Default Case“].

If your spouse wants to file a Response, they can use this website to do so. The Response (FL-120) is nearly identical to the Petition (FL-100). Since the Response (FL-120) is nearly identical to the Petition (FL-100), the same video guide instructions we provide in our “Initial Filings” video guides on how to fill out the Petition can be used by your spouse to fill out his or her Response (FL-120) and his or her UCCJEA (FL-105). Your spouse can click the “Court Forms” button on the homepage to go to our Court Forms Database and find a blank FL-120 and a blank FL-105 that they can fill out and print. If your spouse wishes to purchase the “Initial Filings” video guides, he or she can click here for the “Video Guides”.

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