How you handle your divorce can mean the difference between a long drawn out divorce and one that goes as smoothly as possible. If you and your spouse have discussed your divorce and have agreed to be amicable in your divorce case, you may be able to avoid the high cost of service of the divorce petition. Instead, you might be able to send your spouse a Notice of Acknowledgment and Receipt (NOA).
In California, if your spouse agrees to receive and acknowledge the divorce petition, the NOA can be delivered. Judicial Council Form POS-015 is required to be used as the Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt. It should be delivered along with the divorce petition and summons to your spouse by a mutual friend, relative or someone else you trust.
An NOA is often used when serving a summons on a known-to-be represented party or an unrepresented party who you believe to be amenable to such service. Judicial Council Form POS-015 is required to be used as the Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt. Upon receipt, your spouse has 20 days to complete, sign and return the notice and acknowledgment. Service is considered complete on the date of signing.
How to Deliver the NOA
You and your spouse can agree on a time and place for the third person to serve your spouse. A public place is often best instead of the workplace which may cause embarrassment and resentment. If you prefer you can also ask your spouse to accept the complaint and summons by mail. This can be the best option if your spouse lives far away or if you feel it may trigger bad feelings.
Regardless of how the NOA is delivered, your spouse must complete, sign and return to your server. The NOA tells the court that your spouse received the divorce paperwork. The final step is to file the proof of service and NOA with the court once your spouse returns it to you.
The Function of the NOA
The main benefit of the NOA is that it alleviates the need to track down your spouse and spend a lot of money to deliver the divorce petition. Additionally, as the serving party, you might be able to recover expenses if your spouse does not cooperate or refuses to acknowledge receipt of the divorce petition.
It is important to understand that the return of the NOA simply acknowledges receipt of the documents. It in no way indicates that your spouse will be in agreement to what is indicated on the divorce petition. To be clear, your spouse has the right to dispute what is indicated on the divorce petition. It is a good idea to have a consultation with a local family law attorney before you deliver the divorce petition to your spouse. It will help ensure that the forms are filled out properly to avoid delays and expense when filing a petition for divorce and serving it on your spouse.