What Are Divorce Papers

What Are Divorce Papers And How Are They Served?

When someone refers to “divorce papers,” they are probably talking about a petition for divorce. This petition is what initiates the divorce process. It is written by one spouse and served on the other spouse. This petition is also filed with the appropriate court (where at least one of the spouses resides).

All courts in California use the same basic divorce forms. The petition to initiate divorce is FL-100. Filling out and filing this form with the court starts the process of divorce or legal separation, and contains information about property division, child custody, and more[1].

When someone talks about “serving” the divorce petition, that process is known formally as “service of process.” This is fairly simple if both parties agree to the divorce, but exceedingly more difficult if the other spouse contests the divorce or is residing at an unknown location.

What some individuals petitioning for divorce do is hire a professional server or utilize a sheriff. The petition can also be mailed. Whether the petition is mailed or delivered in person, the papers will contain a Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt that the recipient must sign and return to be filed with the court. If the respondent fails to respond, the divorce could go into default within 30 days.

If you choose service in person, you cannot be the one to serve the papers if you are involved in the case. For example, if you are filing for divorce against your husband, you cannot also serve him the divorce papers. You can have a friend, acquaintance, sheriff, professional process server, or really anyone over the age of 18 who is not part of the case[2].

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