The problem of serving someone in prison is understandable. Many who are filing for divorce, or other legal matters, or who are filing for a change to an existing court order may not know where to start. First, you would need to know in which facility the person is located. He/she may be incarcerated in a county jail, a state prison or a federal prison.

If the person is in a county jail, you can call a county sheriff to find the address & phone number of the facility. However, if the person is in a state prison, then you can search online for the ‘California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation Inmate Locator’ and use the person’s full name. Alternatively, if the person is in a federal prison, you can search online for the ‘Federal Bureau of Prison’s Inmate Locator’. Once you find the correct facility you will want to get the address and phone number as well as the name of the person assigned to serve documents on prisoners. You will also want to know for how long the person will be incarcerated.

Once you have determined the location of the person to be served, you are ready to file the documents in the court and, once filed, you can prepare the service packet. The service packet will then be sent to the designated person at the facility. Once served, you should receive a ‘proof of service’ within a short period of time.

The Proof of Service is an essential part of any Family Law matter and must be filed with the court when a Divorce, Legal Separation, Annulment, Paternity Action or changes to existing orders for custody, visitation and support of children have been filed. The ‘proof of service’ is formal notification that a petition or request for order has been filed.
Once the person is served, he/she has 30 days to respond. Often, the person served does not respond and a ‘default’ is entered. However, if a response is filed then the action is contested. The respondent may respond because a release from prison is imminent and he/she wants to address the issues. However, sometimes the respondent responds even when he/she will be incarcerated for a very long period of time. A consultation with the Attorney will help make clear your best options in either case.
For more information on serving someone while incarcerated and for other Family Law issues, please call Legal Action Workshop @ 1-800-HELP-444 (1-800-435-7444) or visit our website www.LegalActionWorkshopLAW.com .

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. I would like to serve a company in Glendale California and return a letter debt in service to the civil court of New York. How much I have to pay?

    • Hi:
      I’m sorry but we cannot help with this matter. We are not a process serving company…we are a law firm. I would suggest finding a process server from Google etc.
      Hope this helps!

  2. Hello,

    I need to serve a restraining order on an inmate, can this be done in person at the county jail where he is detained at?

    • Yes, it usually can. The best thing to do is to call the facility and ask them how service can be made. Jails may have different protocols.
      Hope this helps!

  3. I am trying to serve papers on a federal inmate. After sending them in the normal manner to the prison, I received the letter back which said a federal inmate must be served by the Feds. Any suggestion on how to do this?

    • Is this for divorce papers? It’s best to call the prison and speak to the authorities there as to how to do this. Typically the petition is sent to a specific address and room in the facility and then they give the docs to the inmate. If you are serving some other kind of paperwork, the procedure may be different.
      Hope this helps!

    • If he is cooperative then you may serve by mail. If you feel he will not sign the ‘proof of service’ then you may wish to serve by process server or other adult (not a child of the marriage). If he is in prison then you will have to contact the facility to find out how to serve. Hope this helps! If you have further questions, please call us @ 818-630-5503.
      Thank-you for contacting Legal Action Workshop!

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