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Can you serve California divorce papers in certified mail? Will the court accept it if the other party does not want to sign?

Pomona, CA |

Can I use certified mail to serve California divorce papers if my wife refuses to sign the Acknowledgment Receipt? Will that suffice as Proof of Service in court? I doubt that she would sign the Acknowledgment Receipt if I mail it to her or use a friend to give it to her. That's why I thought of using certified mail. Will the CA court accept that as Proof of Service?


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Attorney answers 3


Sometimes people who are served don't accept the papers they're handed. That's ok, you can leave them at their feet if they think not touching them means they're not served. They still are.

You can't use mail, you must use personal service, and you can't do it yourself, some other adult not a party to the suit has to do it. Hire a pro, it's worth getting the service and proof of service done right if you think your STBXW is resistant.

PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU COMMENT, EMAIL ME OR PHONE ME. I'm only licensed in CA. This answer doesn't make me your lawyer, and neither do follow-up comments and/or emails and/or phone calls --- we need an actual agreement confirmed in writing before any attorney-client relationship is formed. Please don't expect me to respond to your follow-up queries. This answer doesn't constitute legal advice, and shouldn't be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.


The court will ONLY accept a signed Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt OR a Proof of Personal Service (preferred). This has to be filled out by an adult, aged 18 or older, who is not a party to the action. Just pay a process server to do it; you will be glad you did.

Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, as each situation is fact specific, and it is not possible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and court pleadings filed in the case. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.


The process by mail requires that she sign the Notice of Acknowledgment and Receipt in order to be proper (accepted by the court). Otherwise, your only option is to have her personally served (you cannot do it). You will have to either hire a process server, or have someone else qualified to serve her handle that. You should note, however, that if you do incur costs in having her served because she refused to accept service by mail, the court has the option of ordering her to reimburse you those costs.

For more options on how to resolve your divorce out of court, including handling of service of documents, feel free to visit my web site.

Good luck.