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New York Service of Process for Divorce
The Server

In New York there is not a statewide license, nor is there a requirement for insurance or bonding. There is no statewide educational requirement or testing, however there are local process serving requirements for the City of New York, which require that process servers in the five boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens) be licensed through the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. In New York City, a process server pays a surety bond of $10,000 and agencies post a $100,000 bond. Servers pass a test on relevant rules and laws before being issued a license or renewal. Servers must be 18 or over.

Moreover, in New York City, process servers must keep electronic records of their serves, and track serves with global positioning systems (GPS). In addition, papers cannot be served on Sunday, nor can papers be served on Saturday to anyone who keeps Saturday as a holy time.

Notifying the Spouse

The complaint for divorce must be filed before the spouse is served.

The county sheriff in the county where the papers are filed or a process server may deliver the divorce papers. The person serving the Summons must complete an Affidavit of Service, a notarized statement affirming delivery. The recipient has 20 days to respond to the Summons or 30 days if he or she is served outside of New York State.

If the spouses agree about the divorce, the respondent signs an Affidavit of Defendant, which states that he or she agrees to the action.

After service of process, all other divorce paperwork is mailed.

Delivering the Divorce Papers

In a divorce, the server delivers the Summons and Complaint to the defendant. The server then completes an Affidavit of Service that identifies the recipient, the date, time, address, or, in the event there is no address, place and manner of service, and set forth facts showing that the service was made by an authorized person and in an authorized manner.

In the case of personal service, the affidavit of service describes the recipient “including, but not limited to, sex, color of skin, hair color, approximate age, approximate weight and height, and other identifying features.”

Personal service by mail is also permitted by mailing the person or entity to be served, by first class mail, postage prepaid, a copy of the summons and complaint with two copies of a statement of service by mail and acknowledgement of receipt with a return envelope, postage prepaid, addressed to the sender.

The defendant completes the acknowledgement of receipt and mails or delivers one copy of it within 30 days from the date of receipt. Service is complete on the date the signed acknowledgement of receipt is mailed or delivered to the sender. The signed acknowledgement of receipt proves the service.

Service by publication

When a spouse is missing, service by publication allows for a constructive notice. An order for service by publication directs that the summons and a notice to the defendant, a brief statement of the nature of the action and the relief sought, be published in an English language newspaper at least once in each of three successive weeks. In addition, if practical, an order for service of a summons by publication is mailed on or before the first day of publication a copy of the summons the person to be served “unless a place where such person probably would receive mail cannot with due diligence be ascertained and the court dispenses with such mailing. A notice of publication shall be enclosed.”

The defendant must first make a diligent search for the missing spouse before under service by publication.

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