Q&A: What constitutes "proper service" in New York State?

Divorce: How Should the Divorce Papers be Served so that Service is Proper?

In New York State, you must have an affidavit of service or a affidavit of Defendant in order to proceed with a divorce action. Both of these documents must be notarized by a licensed notary public. There are certain rules for proper service, which, if flouted, can result in the affidavit of service or affidavit of defendant being rejected–at any point in the action or after a divorce judgment has been signed. It is important to adhere to the rules to save yourself the aggravation of having to re-serve the papers.
1. Do not serve on a Sunday or Holiday
2. A husband or wife should not serve each other.
3. If served in New York, the person who serves your spouse must be 18 years of age or older and must be a resident of New York.
4. The person who serves your spose mnust be acquainted with your spouse or must have attended the wedding or must have visited you and your spouse at the marital home or must have a photo of your spouse or must be accompanied by you when you serve your spouse–and you must point out your spouse to them.
5. The person must ask your spouse if he or she is in the military service
6. The person must hand the papers to your spouse in such a way that the words ACTION FOR DIVORCE or ACTION FOR ANNULMENT are visible.
7. The person must say to your spouse, “this is a summons for divorce.”
8. If served outside of New York it is advisable to have the papers served by a lawyer, licensed process server, and notarized by the consulate (if in a foreign country.)
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