What if My Spouse Refuses To Sign the Papers?

If your spouse won't sign the papers, then you'll need to have him/her served with a document called the Summons with Notice.

If your spouse doesn't respond within 20 days, then you have to wait another 20 days (for a total of 40 days), following which you may file for a default divorce.

Q: How do I serve the Summons with Notice on my spouse?

The Summons with Notice must be personally delivered to your spouse. This means that someone must find your spouse and literally hands the document to him/her.

Q: Can I serve the Summons with Notice on my spouse myself?

No. You are the one person that can't do it. Anyone else can do it, provided that they are at least 18 years of age and a resident of New York.

Q: Are there any other special rules about serving the document that I should be aware of?

The main one is that it cannot be served on a Sunday.

Q: Can you do this for me? What is the cost?

Absolutely. In fact, we prefer to do this, to make sure it's done correctly. We will have a process server handle it. Our fee is $200 for the time we spend coordinating and following up. You'll also need to pay the cost of the process server, which is about $100.

Q: Can I hire the process server myself?

Yes. Many process servers only work with attorneys, but some work with regular folks.

Q: What happens after the 40 days?

Assuming your spouse hasn't responded, we'll prepare the final papers - e.g., the Affidavit of Plaintiff, the Complaint, and the proposed Judgment of Divorce, and file them with the court. Annexed to the papers is an "Affidavit of Service" proving that your spouse was in fact served with the papers in compliance with the legal requirements.

Q: What if my spouse doesn't live in New York State?

It's basically the same procedure but your spouse has 30 days to respond instead of 20. A few states require that service be accomplished by a licensed process server.

Q: What if my spouse doesn't live in the country?

Check out my article on divorcing a spouse in a foreign country.

Q: I have more questions. What do I do?

Call Maria: (646) 535-5604.