Saturday, October 6, 2007

How to Serve a California Legal Action

Whether you are file a divorce, a legal separation, or a paternity suit, any time one person files a lawuit, he or she must properly serve the other party to the action. This usually requires you to personally serve your spouse with a copy of the lawsuit. The person who files the paperwork is called the Petitioner. The person who must be served with the paperwork is called the Respondent.

Personal service is the act of placing the paperwork in view of the other party. The purpose of personal service is to place the Respondent on notice that a legal action has been filed. Service can be done by anyone over the age of eighteen years old. However, the Petitioner cannot serve the paperwork upon the Respondent. It has to be someone else. After the paperwork is served, the person who performed the service must fill out a document called a Proof of Service. The Proof of Service is then filed with the court so the judge knows the paperwork was actually served.

Because family law related lawsuits are often emotional, it is not always best to use a professional process server to hand the documents to the Respondent. Each situation is different. As a general rule, however, it is best to diffuse the situation by warning the Respondent that a lawsuit has been filed and arranging service of the documents beforehand. If domestic violence is involved, a competent family law attorney should be consulted before the filing or the service of any lawsuit.

When serving the divorce, paternity or legal separation paperwork, the Respondent does not have to agree to service and does not have to be handed the documents. The server simply has to attempt to hand the documents to the Respondent, and then place the paperwork within the sight of the Respondent.

Although it is the most common, personal service is not the only way to serve a lawsuit. Service can also be accomplished by mail. This is done by mailing the lawsuit to the Respondent's home and asking that he sign and return a form to you. If the Respondent does sign the form, he has been properly served. In some instances, a party will not know where his or her spouse is. In this case, the divorce paperwork must be served by publication.

For more information about this or any other family law related issue, please e-mail us at or call us at (951) 816-9543. Famularo & Associates serves the Temecula, Murrieta and Hemet areas of Riverside County, California.

Please visit our web sites at: Temecula Divorce, Family Law in Riverside County or Family Lawyer in Temecula