Serve a Petiton to become a temporary guardian

After you file your Petitions (to become a guardian and a temporary guardian) and get a court date, you must have another adult (called a server) hand-deliver a copy of both your Petitions, the Notice of Hearing, and Comparison of Guardians With Other Nonparent Caregivers (form GC-207-INFO/JV-352-INFO) to the child's parents and the child if they are 12 years old or older. The server must do this at least 5 days before your court date to be a temporary guardian.

Whom to notify

The people who must get personal (hand-delivered) notice about the request and court date are:

  • The child's parents
  • The child, if they are 12 years old or older
  • Any person who has legal custody of the child
  • Any person who has a valid visitation order in effect when the petition was filed

If there are other people nominated to be the child's guardian or are the guardian of their estate, they must also be handed a copy of the paper.

Check with your court or Self-Help Center if you're not sure.

How to serve in person

  • Choose a server

    You can't serve papers yourself. Ask another adult who is not part of the case—server—to deliver the papers.  

    Your server must be:

    • 18 years old or older
    • Not someone who signed the petition or who is entitled to receive notice

    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. 

    If the other person is in jail or in prison: An official at the jail or prison will be your server. Contact the jail, California state prison, or federal prison to find out who does this and how to get them the documents.

    If the other person lives on a military base: If they're stationed in the United States, your server can deliver the papers to them when they're not on the base. If they're on base, their commanding officer may be able to arrange for service of the papers. Contact the military base to find out their rules. If they're not in the United States, you will need to follow other rules. The process is complicated. In general, if they're serving overseas, you may want to speak to Self-Help Center staff or a lawyer since different rules apply. 
  • Figure out the deadline to serve


    Unless the court orders a different time to serve, your server must hand deliver the papers at least 5 court days before your court date. A court day is a day the court is open (Monday through Friday, excluding court holidays).  


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

    1. Count back 5 court days. Your court date is not counted (so it’s day “0”). 

    1. When you get to the 5th court day, check what day this is:  

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

    • If it’s a Saturday, Sunday, or a court holiday, keep counting back until you get to a day that court would be open. That’s your deadline. 

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

  • Have your server give the papers to the other person

    illustration of a signed paper form changing hands

    Your server must hand the child's parent, the child (if they're over 12 years old), and anyone with legal custody of the child:

    •  A copy of your Petition for Appointment of Guardian and any attachments 

    • A copy of your Petition for Appointment of Temporary Guardian and any attachments 

    • A copy of your Notice of Hearing

    • Comparison of Guardians With Other Nonparent Caregivers (form GC-207-INFO/JV-352-INFO) 

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

    illustration of some paper forms with signature

    Use Proof of Personal Service of Notice of Hearing (form GC-020(P)).

    It helps if you fill in the case number at the top.

    Your server can then fill in the information about how, when, and where they handed the people the papers. Your server must sign and date the form and return it to you. 

  • Copy and file the Proof of Service form

    Make a copy of your Proof of Service form. Attach the original to a copy of the Notice of Hearing and the copy to another copy of the Notice in Hearing.

    File the original attached to the Notice along with a second copy with the court where you filed the papers. The court will stamp and return the copy. Keep the copy of the Proof of Service form for your records.

Go to your court date to be a temporary guardian

illustration of a judges gavel

At the first hearing, the judge will decide whether to appoint you a temporary guardian for the child. 

If the judge makes you a temporary guardian, it only lasts until the next court date. Before the next court date, someone appointed by the court (an investigator) will contact you. They will do an investigation to see if the child needs a guardian.

You will likely need to have notice of the next court date personally served on the parents. And do not forget to serve the other relatives once you know what the next court date is. You can get instructions on who, when, and how to serve in how to serve in person and how to serve by mail.


What's next?

Before your next court date, you will need to notify more of the child's family members about your request to become the child's guardian.

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