Yes. If you live in California and are filing for divorce, you can serve California divorce papers on your spouse who lives in India. However, the process is complicated and will take extra time. Sometimes it takes up to a year to obtain the proof of service (discussed below).
To serve California divorce papers in India, what you need to do is follow the rules and procedures for “international service of process.” “Service of process” is a legal phrase that essentially means “delivering court papers.” Most courts — including California courts — require that “court papers” be hand-delivered. In California, this usually means hand-delivered by a California Sheriff’s Deputy or by a person/company appointed by the California court to hand-deliver the court papers. Such persons/companies are called Special Process Servers. However, when trying to obtain service of process overseas, a California Sheriff’s Deputy or a Special Process Server will not be allowed to operate in a foreign country. The solution, as noted, is to follow the international rules and procedures. In very brief terms, this means sending the court papers to government officials in a foreign country and having those officials deliver the papers via the rules of that country.
For service of process of California divorce papers in India, this means following the rules established under the Hague Service Convention (“HSC”). This can be complicated, and it is best to obtain help from a company that specializes in international service of process like Ancillary Legal. We accept orders over the phone at (404) 459-8006 and via email.
The HSC is an international treaty signed by the United States and India. Under the HSC, foreign nation signatories establish what is called a Central Authority. In India, the Central Authority is part of the Ministry of Law. To have the Central Authority serve California divorce papers, the proper HSC form is completed (in English), and copies of the California divorce papers are attached (in English). Note, however, that if the recipient does NOT speak English, then the California divorce papers must be translated into the appropriate language of the recipient. The translations must be certified. This is not required by the law of India but rather by the due process rules of U.S. courts. The basic idea of due process is that the legal process must be done in a manner that can be understood.
In any event, once the packet of documents and forms is complete and in the proper format, these are sent to the Indian Central Authority (along with the appropriate fees). Note that Letters Rogatory are no longer needed for international service of process in India. From there, service of the California divorce papers will be done by local government officials, and when completed, the officials will fill out what is called the proof of service/certification of service. The proof of service states that the court papers have been served on the person intended, the method of service, and the place and date of service. The proof of service is also filled out if, for some reason, the service of California divorce papers was not accomplished. In those circumstances, the proof of service would state the reasons that prevented service. The proof of service is returned to the applicant — the California litigant — and must be filed with the California divorce court.
For more information, contact Ancillary Legal at (404) 459-8006. We have the deep experience, staffing, and resources to help you satisfy the requirements for proper and valid international service of process. We focus on litigation support domestically and internationally and can ensure that your time can stay focused on the substance of your matter and not procedural technicalities. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.