At this point, you should have successfully filed with your court your Petition (FL-100) and your Summons (FL-110). The next step is serving the papers to your spouse, followed by the completion of the proof of service of summons, FL-115.
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Contact & Court Information
In this case, let’s go back to our original demonstration couple, John and Jane Smith. John, the petitioner, would input his name and his address. Remember, the phone number you input does not have to be your home number, but it does need to be a number where the court can contact you. Fax number and email address are completely optional.
Attorney For (Name): We’re going to put “In Pro Per,” meaning “self-represented,” as you’re representing yourself throughout this case.
John happens to live in the county of Contra Costa. The court’s street address is 751 Pine Street and the city is Martinez.
Mailing address: The mailing address for the Contra Costa court is PO Box 911, Martinez, California, and the zip is 94553. If you’d like to get fancy, the branch name is the Peter L Spinetta Family Law Center. Even if you don’t want to fill that out on your forms, it is important for you to know the building. If you go down to the courthouse, it is referred to as the Spinetta Family Law Center. Moving down, input the names of the petitioner and respondent.
By this point you’ve filed paperwork with the court and you’ll have a case number. So, you must complete this field. Under the assumption that our sample petitioner John is completing this process in 2016, the case number will always start with a “D16” followed by a 5 digit case number. If you’re in a county other than Contra Costa, your case number will start with something different. You are required as of this form and any subsequent that follow to always input this number.
There are two ways to serve your spouse. The first, and most common, is by personal service. Personal service occurs when somebody other than yourself over the age of 18 has served your spouse, the respondent, with a copy of the papers. The other method is by proof of service by mail and Notice of Acknowledgement of Receipt. If the two of you are both amicable and on relatively good terms, mail is a less invasive and the “nicer” way of serving. However, there is a caveat: your spouse must be responsible enough to sign the document and send it back to you (or physically give it back to you). Otherwise it’s not valid service. This form states that you have actually served your spouse with the petition and the summons, which kicks off a clock. In California, it takes a minimum of 6 months plus a day to get divorced. Therefore, this form is incredibly important, and if you want to get divorced, you have to fill this form correctly and file with the court on time.
1: The Forms Served on Respondent
The first thing to keep in mind with this form is that you’re not actually signing it yourself. The person who is serving the document for you will be signing their name at the bottom. Our recommendation is that you fill out the form as much as possible, so all the person serving has to do is sign. In the end, it’s up to you to make sure that the person signing the document has done everything correctly.
Check the box for,”1a,” because you’re filling out and serving the divorce papers. The petition is the FL-100, the summons is FL-110, and you’ll also need to serve a blank response, which is form FL-120 (we cover how to complete the FL-120 for respondents in another video and article). As the petitioner, you need to give them a copy of FL-120 to fill out and file with the court. Remember, it’s blank, so you don’t complete anything on it. You can simply download it from our site, print, and include it with FL-100 and 110.
If you have a minor child, you also have to serve and file the UCCJEA, FL-105. In our sample case there isn’t one. Note that if you are serving other documents, obviously you’ll need to check the appropriate boxes. In our sample petitioner John’s case, he has no child, so he is going to be serving the petition, the summons, and a blank FL-120.
2: Address of Service
First, a review of the two types of service.
- Personal service occurs when someone other than yourself who is over 18 physically hands the documents to the respondent.
Mail and acknowledgment of service occurs when someone other than yourself who is over 18 mails the documents to the respondent.
- Regardless of the method of service, personal or by mail, an address is required. If personal service occurred at Starbucks, at their place of employment, or mailed to the respondent’s home, the address must be entered in this field.
3: Method of Service
Assuming personal service: you’d check the box “3a.” Next, date and time will need to be entered – it’s easy to miss both, including the AM or PM associated with the time. The court will reject this entire form if anything is missing. Once date and time are entered correctly, you’re done with this page and can proceed to number 4 on page 2.
Assuming service by mail and acknowledgment of receipt:
The Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt is a separate form (FL-117), and it will be attached to this form. We have a separate video that covers FL-117, so you can reference if needed. Check box “3c,” “Mail and acknowledgement of service.” As with personal service, it’s someone over 18 (not you). The date and city fields need to be completed, so input the date of mailing, and the city being mailed from.
Box (1): The first box says two copies of the notice and acknowledgement of receipt. So, you need to enclose two copies of the FL-117 with a self-addressed stamped envelope. The postage-paid return envelope that is included will have your mailing address on it. We mentioned previously that if you choose service by mail, it’s important that your spouse is responsible. FL-117 is the reason why. There are 2 copies of the Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt because your spouse has to mail one copy back to you. The copy that he or she mails back to you is what you’re also going to include with this form, FL-115.
4: Individual who Served
Let’s assume that petitioner John had his dad serve the papers. Dad is not a party to the case, he’s over 18, so he’s fully qualified to serve. We’ll assume his name is James Smith, and we’d input a valid mailing address and phone number for him.
4b: James is John’s dad, and he’s not a processor, so we’re going to check box “b.”
John’s dad, James, would check box 5, declaring under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.
Scrolling down to the very bottom, it is the name of the person who served the papers, not your name. In this case, it’s James Smith, and James would need to date and sign it. The date field is easy to miss – remind the person serving for you not to overlook this one.
This form can be complicated and confusing. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us. We’d love to hear from you! Our number is 925-215-1388, or you can contact us via our contact form.
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