Before you start
Serving means another adult, not you, delivers a copy of the forms to the other parent. This person is your server. Your server must deliver the papers in person.
After delivering the papers, your server must sign a form saying they delivered the papers. You file this form with the court.
Personal service is almost always required. This means your server hands the papers to the other parent. But there are some situations where you can use a different process:
If your child's other parent is out of California, your server can mail them the forms by certified mail, return receipt requested. Keep in mind this type of service requires more time so pay attention to the deadlines.
First, you will have to look for them. You will have to show the judge that you tried everything reasonable to track them down. This is called a due diligence search. If you searched for them and still can’t find them, you can ask for permission to serve them by publication. In some cases, you may find how to reach them but not an address, like if you find their account on social media. In that case, the judge might order you to also notify them through social media.
Choose a server
You can't serve papers yourself. Ask another adult – a server – to deliver the papers.
Your server must be:
18 or over, and
Not part of your case
Your server can be:
Someone you know
The county sheriff (in most, not all, counties)
A professional process server you hire
The sheriff charges to serve papers unless you have a fee waiver. And not every sheriff’s department may serve name change papers so ask first.Contact the jail or prison to find out how to get papers served on an inmate. Sometimes, the staff at the jail or prison will do it for you. Other times, you may have to arrange to do it during visiting hours, or some other way.
Figure out the deadline to serve
Your server must deliver the forms within 4 weeks of the date the Order to Show Cause (form NC-520) is filed with the court, which will be stamped in the upper right-hand corner of the form.
If the other parent is outside of California and you will have them served by certified mail, return receipt requested, you have to add 10 days for the mailing. That means the forms must be mailed to them within 18 days of the date the judge signed the order.
Have your server deliver the forms
Your server must find your child’s parent and hand them the forms.
Your server should write down the address where they gave the other parent the forms, along with the date and time. The server needs this information to fill out a Proof of Service form.Your server can leave the papers next to them and tell them what they are. For example, your server can leave the papers on the ground next to them and say, "These are important legal papers for you."
Have your server complete Proof of Service form
You can use Proof of Service of Order to Show Cause (form NC-121).
It helps if you fill in the top part of the form with the case and court information.
Your server can then fill in the information about how, when, and where they served the forms. They also have to fill in their address and write in the name of the forms they served, the Petition (form NC-500), the Name and Information About the Person Whose Name is to be Changed (form NC-110), and the Order to Show Cause (form NC-520).
Your server must sign at the bottom.
Unless your server will file it for you, your server should then give the Proof of Service form back to you to file.
File the Proof of Service
Make one copy of your filled out Proof of Service form.
File the original and copy.
The court will keep the original.
The court will stamp and return the copy to you.
Keep the copy for your records and bring it to the hearing.
The other parent has 6 weeks from the date the Order to Show Cause is filed with the court to file a written objection.
- If they do, the court will set a court date. You will get a notice about the court date in the mail.
- If they do not file an objection by the deadline, then the judge will make a decision. You can pick up the order.