How to Serve Divorce Papers in New York

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Divorce is a legal process that requires proper service. The party filing for divorce is considered the plaintiff and the filing party's spouse is referred to as the defendant. The plaintiff is responsible for serving the defendant. According to New York law, a divorce is not granted unless proper delivery has occurred. The rules within the Civil Practice Laws and Regulations, also known as C.P.L.R., must be followed throughout the divorce proceedings.

Locate your spouse prior to initiating the divorce proceedings. Have a photo of your spouse, physical description and all location information available to give to your process server. If you are unsure of your spouse's location, provide the process server with as much information as you have, such as place of work, family members' names and addresses, friends' names and addresses and any other place or person your spouse is known to frequent.

File for divorce and fill out the required form for summons (See Resources 1 for forms and instructions). List the process server's name and describe how he knows the defendant or how he will recognize the defendant. The process server cannot be a party named in the divorce and must be over the age of 18. He can know the defendant or can be a hired process server.

Instruct the process server to have the Affidavit of Service signed in the presence of a notary. He must then return the form to you, and you must submit this notice to the court.

Hiring a Process Server

Visit the site listed in Resource 5. Select your New York city.

Review the names and businesses of process servers in your city. You will see a list of recommended servers, as well as other licensed process servers. All process servers listed on this site have been prescreened and have provided letters of recommendation

Contact the process servers you are interested in to determine their rates and availability. Once you have found one you are comfortable with, provide all legal documentation required, a complete description of your spouse and payment. By using a licensed process server, he will be aware of the server requirements.

Follow up with the process server every three to five days to ensure efforts are being made to locate your spouse. Once the summons has been served, collect the notarized paperwork and submit it to the court. If your spouse cannot be located, contact the court for instructions on how to obtain court permission to serve by publication.