How to Serve Divorce Papers in California

by Heather Montgomery

Filing for divorce can be a confusing process. In California, each form has to be filled out 100 percent correct in order for the process to start. Two forms are required to start the process; depending if children or excessive property is involved there may be additional forms. These forms are found online through Court Info or at your local County Clerk Office. You will need three copies of each form; one copy for your records, one for the Clerk of Courts and one for your spouse.

Fill out each form needed for your situation and make copies. The Clerk of Courts will keep the originals. Make sure to write legibly and not to use any white out, as these are legal documents.

Bring the forms to the Court Clerk office. The clerk will check over you forms to make sure they are filled out correctly. Your clerk will require a fee to file the forms; these fees vary by county. You may be eligible for a fee waiver. To find you local clerks office, go to the Court Info website.

Serve your spouse with each form you have filled out and filed with the court. Someone other than yourself must serve your spouse. This can be a friend, family member, county sheriff or a hired process server. The person serving the papers must be over the age of 18, not be listed on any court documents in regards to your case and must fill out a Proof of Service form.

File the Proof of Service form with the Court Clerk. The clerk will mark the form filed and return it. Keep this and all other documentation in a safe place.

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Items you will need

  • Form FL-100, Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
  • Form FL-110, Family law summons
  • Form FL-105, Declaration under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (if children are involved)
  • Form FL- 160, Property Declaration
  • A friend, family member or process server
  • Proof of Service Form


  • Depending on the complexity of your case, other forms may need to be filled out and filed with the court.
  • If you hire a process server or the county sheriff, provide the current address as well as a picture of your spouse.


  • Due to the complexity of some divorces, it may be in your best interest to consult an attorney.

About the Author

Based in Lakeland, FL., Heather Montgomery has been writing a popular celebrity parenting blog and several parenting and relationship articles since 2011. Her work also appears on eHow and Everyday Family and she focuses her writing on topics about parenting, crafts, education and family relationships. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in early education from Fort Hays State University.

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