Service rules for special situations

There are situations where you may not be able to serve papers in person. If any of these situations apply to you, you may serve papers using an alternate process. 

In most local courts, the Family Law Facilitator or Self-Help Center can offer more information about how to do service in these situations.

Some of these, especially service when the person lives in another country, are complicated. If your court's Self-Help Center isn't able to help, they may know where you can get more information or get help from lawyer.


If the person you need to serve... What you need to do or consider
Lives in another country You must follow special rules to serve someone in another country. Often, the U.S. and that country have agreements about how you can serve someone in that country. For example, if the person is in Mexico you must follow the Hague Convention or the Inter-American Convention to do service. The process is complicated. 
Lives on a military base or is serving overseas If they're stationed in the United States, your server can deliver the papers to them when they're not on the military 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.
Lives in another state (in the US) You can do basic personal service or service by mail with Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt. You may also be able to serve them by certified mail with a return receipt requested.
Cannot be found  If you don’t know where they live, you need to try and find them. If you still can’t find them, you can ask the court to serve by publication or posting.
Is in jail 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.


success alert banner:

Have a question about Petition for Custody and Support?

Look for a "Chat Now" button in the right bottom corner of your screen. If you don’t see it, disable any pop-up/ad blockers on your browser.