Before you start
Serving means another adult, not you, delivers a copy 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. But there are some situations where you can use a different process:
If your child's other parent is out of California, you 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.
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 Order and other forms at least 30 days before your court date.
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 at least 40 days before your court date.
Have your server deliver the forms
Your server must find your child’s parent and hand them the Order to Show Cause and other 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 doorstep 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.
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 Proof of Service form
Make one copy of your filled out Proof of Service form.
File the original and copy at least 5 court (business) days before the court hearing.
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.
Once you've served the forms, you need to have your request published in a newspaper if you haven't already.
Then, you can start to prepare for the court date. This date may be cancelled if the other parent doesn't object to your request. If that happens, if you followed all the steps, the judge will sign your request.