Serve the parents

Once you file the papers and get a court date, you must have another adult, not you, deliver a copy of the filed papers to your grandchild's parents. The person who delivers them is your server.  You must file a form your server signs saying they delivered the papers.

Before you start

Your server must deliver the papers to your grandchild's parents, including any stepparents. If the parents do not have custody of their child, then the server must deliver a copy to the person who has custody of the child.

illustration of a signed paper form changing hands

If you filed the first court papers to start the court case, then your server must serve the papers in person. 


illustration of an envelope

If you are joining an existing case (like a divorce), then your server could serve the papers in person or they can mail the papers (certified mail, return receipt requested).

A judge can't make a decision unless your server gives a copy to both parents (if they're both alive). 

Even if a parent agrees with you, they must get a copy of the papers. If you don't know where a parent is, talk to your court's Self-Help Center to find out your options.

How to serve your papers

  • 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 or a professional process server you pay. 

  • Figure out your deadline to serve

    Unless the court orders a different time to serve, your server must hand the papers at least 16 court days before your hearing. 

    A court day is a day the court is open (Monday through Friday, except court holidays).

    Take out a calendar and find your court date (it’s listed on the first page of your Request).   

    1. Count backwards on the calendar 16 court days (Monday to Friday, not including any court holidays). Start counting with the hearing date (it’s day zero).   

    1. Stop when you get to the 16th court day. That’s your deadline.  

    Your server needs to hand-deliver the papers on or before this date. 


    If you are joining an existing case, your server can mail the papers (certified mail, return receipt requested). But, then the deadline is sooner. The server must mail the paper 16 court days plus 5 calendar days before your court date. To  figure out this deadline:

    Take out a calendar and find your court date (it’s listed on the first page of your Request for Order). 

    1. Count backwards on the calendar 16 court days (Monday to Friday, not including any court holidays). Your court date is not counted (so it’s day “0”). 

    1. When you get to the 16th day, count back 5 calendar days (these can be weekends or holidays) 

    1. Check what day this is:  

    •  If it’s not a holiday or weekend, that’s your deadline. 

    • If it’s a Saturday or Sunday or court holiday, count back to a day that court would be open, that’s your deadline. 

    Your server needs to mail the papers before this date.


  • Server delivers the papers

    Your server must find the child's parents and hand the papers to them by the deadline.  If someone else has custody of your grandchild, that person gets a copy as well.

    Your server hands them: 

    • Copy of the Petition and Summons you filed to start the case or join the case

    • Copy of your Request for Orders and any attachments 

    • A blank Responsive Declaration to Request for Orders (form FL-320

    • Copies of any other papers you filed (except any fee waivers) 

    Tell your server to write down the date they handed them the papers. Your server needs this date to fill out the Proof of Service form. 

    If the parent won’t take the papers, your server may leave them by them and tell them what they are. For example, your server can leave them on the ground next to them and say, "These are important legal papers for you."


    If your grandchild's parent has a lawyer in the case, then your server must hand the papers to the lawyer instead.
  • Fill out Proof of Service form

    You need a separate Proof of Service for each parent that was served.

    If you started the case, your server must fill out and sign a Proof of Service of Summons (form FL-115).


    If you asked to join the case, you can use a Proof of Personal Service (form FL-330) if your handed the forms to the parent. The can use Proof of Service by Mail (form FL-335), if your server mailed the forms to the parent.

  • File Proof of Service

    • Make a copy of your Proof of Service form.  

    • File the original and the copy with the court where you filed the papers at least 5 court days before your hearing date. The court will stamp and return the copy. 
    • Keep the copy of the Proof of Service form for your records. 

Grandparent visitation

What's next?

The next step depends if you asked to join the case or if you started the case.

  • If you asked to join, you'll next have a court date where a judge will decide if you can join the case and then go to mediation with the parents.
  • If you started the case, your next step is to go to mediation. Start to prepare for mediation. 
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