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Who by law is supposed to serve papers to the person u are taking to court in family court? Can the dad involved do it?

Hesperia, CA |

Myself and my ex are going through court because he wants to modify a case over child support , visitation, and consolidating the child support. He has been serving me with the papers by mail and in person. Is he allowed by law to do that? Or is somebody else supposed to serve me because he's giving me some of the papers within the same month of the date and some the day after the final date for a class.

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Attorney answers 4


Generally speaking only the initial papers (the Petition, the OSC, the papers that "started" the proceeding) need to be served on you personally. Thereafter, once you have appeared in the case (that is, filed your response) most papers can be served by mail. As to who can do the serving, anyone over the age of 18 who isn't a party (that is, not him and not you) , so his dad would be ok.

Marshall Waller may be reached at 800-655-4766 or by email at: Follow him on Twitter: @feinbergwaller. Responses to questions posted by Mr. Waller on AVVO are intended as general information based upon the facts stated in the question, and are provided for educational purposes of the public, not any specific individual, and the response to the question above is not legal advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you would like to obtain specific legal advice about this issue as it pertains to your particular situation you must contact an attorney who is licensed to practice law in your state.


It appears from your question that your former husband / the father of the children about whom the motions are being pursued is serving you pleadings both by mail and in person. He is not eligible to serve you. Only someone who is over 18 and NOT one of the parties in the case [that is, you or him], can serve pleadings.

Whoever serves the pleadings needs to complete a Proof of Service that states, under penalty of perjury, who it is that served the pleadings, on whom they were served, when they were served and by what method [personally, by mail, by FedEx, etc.]. There is a form that you use for the Proof of Service. The Proof of Service must be filed with the court.

If you appear at a hearing, even though your former spouse served you, you MUST object to the form of service. If you do not object to the court, the judge may go ahead with the hearing, anyway. If you object to the service of the pleadings and the court agrees, the matter will be taken off calendar or continued to another date.

Mr. Richardson practices in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, and concentrates in non-adversarial dispute resolution as a mediator and collaborative lawyer. The California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization certifies Mr. Richardson as a specialist in California Family Law. He offers no comments or advice with respect to the laws of any state or jurisdiction other than California. The above answer is a general explanation of legal rights and procedures. Mr. Richardson is not your lawyer unless and until you and he have personally met together. This post does not constitute legal advice, and no lawyer client relationship results.



We have papers signed by the court for 2009 for visitation and he wants to modify that and consolidate child support which is another case. Is he allowed to mail those to me or are they supposed to be served?

George Baker Richardson

George Baker Richardson


Service can be accomplished by mail. However, the person who mails the pleadings cannot be Dad. It must be someone over 18 who is not a party to the case. As I noted before, whoever serves the pleadings must complete and file a Proof of Service.


I take it that the "dad" is the person you are taking to family court. Parties are not allowed by law to serve papers in their own cases.

What class are you referring to, in your question? If what the "dad" provided to you was not a legal document filed with the Court, or discovery, but was instead just informational, such as a schedule for parenting classes of something of that sort, as opposed to llegal documents in the case, the "dad" could provide those to you - but he didn't serve them. He just provided them to you, and you indicated that some of them he gave you late.

You would be better off if you retained an experienced Family Law Attorney to represent you in your child custody, visitation and support matter.

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.


I agree with my colleagues--but the two of you can agree and only file the final agreement in court. Life will be far easier if you can manage it. Get an "unbundled" consult to finalize whatever you agree to.

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