What To Do If Served With A Divorce
If you have been served with a divorce action, you should immediately contact my office for a free, confidential and no-obligation consultation. You only have 20 days to answer the complaint if you and your spouse live in New York state. You have 30 days if you live outside of the state of New York and your spouse lives in New York and brought the divorce action in this state.
You must also be personally served unless it cannot be achieved and authorization for alternate service is obtained from the court. Alternate service may be by publication in a newspaper (see my Unknown Spouse’s Whereabouts page).
What Should I Do First?
“Answering” the summons and complaint does not mean calling the court, your spouse or his/her attorney! You must file formal pleadings with the court complying with court rules and the civil practice of law and rules of the state of New York. The pleadings must specifically admit or deny all of the allegations in the complaint and you must assert affirmative defenses, or else they will be deemed waived.
What Happens If I Don’t Respond?
If you fail to file formal answering papers in a timely manner, you will be subject to a “default judgment.” This means that everything your spouse requested in the summons and complaint — including the divorce — may be granted based upon your default! You do not want this to happen, because “opening” a default is dependent on you having a meritorious defense and reasonable excuse for your default and it could be denied by the court.
If You’ve Been Served, Act Now
Do not delay in contacting my office for a free consultation. Call 718-720-1000 at any time. Calls are answered 24 hours a day.