Divorce is never an easy decision, but sometimes it is the best one for everyone involved. If you find yourself in this situation, you should know that it comes with a price. Not only is there the emotional cost of ending a relationship, but there are also the more practical costs.
In this article, we will discuss how much does it cost to serve divorce papers in California and walk you through the process of filing a legal dissolution of marriage in this state.
How Much Does Serving Divorce Papers in California Cost
The cost of serving documents for a divorce case in the US depends on various factors. For example, it would depend on whether you are hiring a process server or doing it yourself. It would also depend on how complex your case is. Generally speaking, the average cost of using this service is about $100 to $400.
But in the Golden State, the cost can be a bit higher. California courts charge $435 for divorce filing fees. And, this does not include the cost of serving the papers. Process servers charge an average rate of $75 to $100 per hour, so you also have to take this into consideration.
So, how much does it cost to serve divorce papers in California? If you do it yourself, then you are looking at a minimum of $510. And, if you hire a professional process server, then the cost could be closer to $600.
Of course, these are just estimates. The actual cost will depend on the specific details of your case. Nonetheless, this should give you a general idea of how much it costs to serve divorce papers in this state.
Filing and Serving Divorce Papers in California: The Process
If you have decided that divorce is the best decision for you and your family, there are certain steps that you need to take. Let’s take a look at the process of filing for divorce in California.
Step 1: File a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Court
The first step when filing for divorce in California is to arrange a petition for dissolution of marriage with the court. This document starts the divorce process and must be served on your spouse.
You can find the forms you need on the California Courts website. Once you have filled them out, you will need to file them with the court clerk. As mentioned, the filing fee is $435, but there may be additional fees if you are using a professional process server.
You will also need to prepare two copies of the petition—one for yourself and one for your spouse. Be sure to keep a copy for your records.
You will also need to prepare a summons, which is a document that tells your spouse that you have filed for divorce and what they need to do next.
Step 2: Fill Out a Proof of Service Form
The next step is to fill out a Proof of Service form, which is used to show that you have served your spouse with the divorce papers. You will need to include the date and time that you served the papers, as well as how you served them (e.g., by hand, by mail, etc.).
You can also find the forms you need on the California Courts website and should file them with the court clerk.
Step 3: Serve the Papers to Your Spouse
Once you have filed the petition and summons with the court, you will need to serve them to your spouse. This can be done by hand, by mail, or by publication.
If you choose to serve the papers by hand, you will need to find a process server. They are the best people to know how to serve divorce papers in California in the quickest and most efficient way possible.
If you choose to serve the papers by mail, you will need to fill out a form called “Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt” and have your spouse sign it. Once they have signed it, you will need to file it with the court clerk.
You can also choose to serve the papers by publication if you cannot locate your spouse. This option is usually only available if you have made a good faith effort to find your spouse and have been unable to do so. You will need to fill out a form called “Declaration of Due Diligence” and file it with the court clerk.
Once the court approves your request, they will give you permission to serve the papers by publication. You will then need to place an ad in a local newspaper for four weeks in a row. The ad must state that you are divorcing your spouse and include information on how they can contact you.
After the four weeks have passed, you will need to fill out a Proof of Publication form and file it with the court clerk.
At this point, your divorce process has officially started.
Step 4: Wait for Your Spouse to Respond
Once you have served your spouse with the divorce papers, they will have 30 days to respond. If they do not respond within this time frame, you can file a form called “Request for Default”.
If your spouse does respond, they will need to fill out and file a document called “Response to Petition for Dissolution of Marriage”.
Step 5: Attend a Case Management Conference
This is a meeting with the judge or court-appointed mediator where you will discuss how you would like to proceed with the divorce.
You will need to fill out and file a Case Management Statement form before this meeting. During such, you may be asked to sign an agreement that outlines how you would like to resolve the issues in your divorce.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on how to proceed, the judge will make a decision for you.
At this point, you are well on your way to finalizing your divorce process in California. Be sure to follow all the steps to ensure the process goes ahead without a hitch.
California Divorce Process FAQs
Q: How long does a divorce process last?
A: The divorce process can take anywhere from six weeks to several months, depending on the specific circumstances of your case.
Q: What are the grounds for divorce in California?
A: According to the divorce requirements in California, the legal grounds are categorized as either “fault” or “no-fault”. Fault grounds include adultery, abandonment, domestic violence, and mental cruelty. No-fault grounds state that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, and there is no hope for reconciliation.
Q: Do I always need an attorney to get a divorce in California?
A: You are not required to have an attorney to get a divorce in California. However, the process can be complicated, and it is always recommended that you seek out legal counsel to ensure that your rights are protected.
Q: How will my property be divided in a California divorce?
A: Property division in a California divorce is typically done through negotiation between the divorcing parties. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, the court will make the decision for you. All property acquired during the marriage is typically considered community property and will be divided evenly between the parties.
Q: How will child custody be decided in a California divorce?
A: Child custody would be decided through negotiation between you and your spouse. If you cannot come to an agreement, the court will also make the decision for you. The court will always prioritize what is in the best interests of the child when making a custody determination.
Divorce can be an emotionally stressful and difficult process, but California has taken steps to make it as straightforward as possible. So, know how much does it cost to serve divorce papers and be sure to follow all the required steps and requirements set forth by the state to ensure that the process goes smoothly. If you have any questions about how to proceed, be sure to seek out legal counsel.
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