The Rules About Serving and Filing Responses to Requests for Orders in Family Law Courts can be Confusing. Here is a Primer on What to Do and When to Do It.
The questions I was asked:
My ex hired a lawyer and their lawyer served me with a request to modify custody by mail at the wrong address, but I was notified and received the papers. Do I have to serve a copy of my response to the request before I file it? Who do I serve–my ex or their lawyer? How long before the hearing must I serve the response?
How and when to serve a response:
The opposing lawyer needed to serve the motion 16 court days before the hearing if served in person and 16 court days* plus 5 regular days before if served by mail. Since your ex seeks a post judgment modification, he or the lawyer were obligated to confirm that they served you at the right address in a declaration. Form FL-334 is usually used to meet this obligation.
Even though you were served at the wrong address you must serve your FL-320 Response on the lawyer for your ex if you intend to file it. Your response must be served 9 court days before the hearing if served in person and 9 court days plus 5 regular days if served by mail. You use proof of service form FL-330 for personal service and FL-335 for mail service.
You can also serve your FL-320 response via email. The lawyer’s email should be typed under his/her name on the FL-300 Request for Orders (first page at the top left). Use form POS-050 for your proof of service. Service by email must be done 9 court days plus 2 regular days before the hearing. If you serve by email include a message in the e-mail stating: “Dear Ms./ Mr. Lawyer I’d like to serve my FL-320 by email if you do not stipulate to e-service, please write me back and let me know.” This is because under the Code the parties are supposed to agree to electronic service.
* a court day is a nonholiday weekday not weekend days and not government recognized holidays.
Here’s a link to a court day calculator that works for all counties of California.
“BUT WHAT IF I AM LATE”
You should still serve and file your FL-320 opposing the request for orders. The court has discretion to accept it and very likely will accept it.