Serve by Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt

Before you can move your divorce forward, you must notify your spouse by formally delivering copies of the paperwork. The primary way this is done is personal service


But, if you and your spouse are cooperating and they will participate to move the divorce forward, you can try service by mail with Notice of Acknowledgment and Receipt.  

Before you start

Things to consider  

  • This only works if your spouse will sign and send back a form

  • Waiting for your spouse to return the form may take longer than having them personally served

There are some benefits to serving this way—if it’s done right  

  • It can save money. If your spouse lives far away, you may need to hire someone to do personal service. This saves that cost since you can probably find someone to mail the papers for free.   

  • For some people, being personally served is emotionally hard. They would prefer to get the papers in the mail. 

Be prepared. If it doesn’t work, you'll need to do personal service

How to serve by mail with Notice of Acknowledgment and Receipt

  • Choose a server

    You can't mail the papers yourself. Ask another adult to mail the papers. This is your server.  

    Your server must be: 

    • 18 or over 

    • Not part of your case 

    Your server can be someone you know or a professional process server you hire. 

  • Figure out when to serve

    You can't move your case forward until you serve the other person. Once they are served, they have 30 days to respond. After that, your case can move forward even if they don’t respond.

    Service is complete the day your spouse signs the Notice, not the day your server mailed it.
  • Fill out and copy Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt

    Get the Notice of Acknowledgment and Receipt (form FL-117). 

    • Fill in the top part with the information about your case

    • Write in your spouse’s name in item 1

    • Check the boxes in item 4

    Give the form to your server. 

    Your server: 

    • Fills in the day they will mail the papers (item 2) 

    • Signs the form (item 3) 

    • Makes a copy of the form 

  • Prepare a return envelope

    Once your spouse gets the papers, they need to mail back the signed Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt to your server. To make sure this happens, provide them with an envelope addressed to your server with the proper postage. 

    Give the envelope to your server.

  • Have your server mail the papers and envelope

    Your server mails your spouse: 

    • A copy of the papers 

    • A blank response - Marriage/Domestic Partnership (form FL-120)  

    • The original and copy of the signed Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt 

    • A pre-addressed and stamped envelope 

  • Wait for server to get signed Notice in the mail

    Once your spouse gets the Notice, they should sign it and mail it back to your server. They can use the envelope the server sent them.

  • Fill out the Proof of Service forms

    Use Proof of Service of Summons (form FL-115).

    It helps if you fill in the top part of the form with the case and court information. 

    The server:

    1. Fills in the rest of the information (Items 2, 3(c), 4, and 5)  

    1. Signs the form 

    1. Attaches a copy of the signed Notice they got from your spouse

    They can then give you back the Proof of Service to file. 

  • Copy and file the Proof of Service form

    • Make 2 copies of your Proof of Service form (including the signed Notice).  

    • File the original and copies with the same court where you filed the papers. The court will stamp and return the copies. 

    • Keep a copy of the Proof of Service for your records.

Once you've served the Petition and Summons, you've completed the first part of the divorce process: starting a divorce case

What's next?

After you serve these papers, you'll wait for a response from your spouse. They have 30 days from the date they signed the Notice they sent back to file a response. If they don't file a response, you can still move forward with the divorce.


In the meantime, you'll need to complete information about your finances.

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