my spouse wants a divorce and i am incarcerated. how will i be notified? what should i do?

You will likely receive paperwork through the mail, which will include the Summons, and Petition legal papers that were filed by your former spouse. You will also receive a form called the “Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt” (FL-117). This form asks if you would like to “waive” (meaning give up) your right to be served with future papers. If you do not agree to give up this right, then your spouse seeking the divorce will have to arrange for someone to serve future papers related to the divorce to you personally (usually someone you spouse hires or someone in law enforcement).

Once you have received this paperwork, you will have 30 days to respond.[2528] For steps on how to respond, please see Appendix K on PG. 822. Unfortunately, however, there is no law saying you have the right to be present at the court hearing—unless there will be a potential change in your rights as a parent).[2529] BUT you can still respond! You should still respond to the petition within 30 days if you disagree with something that is included in the paperwork filed by your spouse—for example, see Appendix K on PG. 822, for reasons why you could disagree with the petition.

  1. 2528

    Manual on Divorce Issues for People in California Prisons and Jails, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, available at

  2. 2529

    Cal. Penal Code § 2625.