What to Do if You are Served Divorce Papers in New York

A client handing over a document to a Jewish divorce lawyer in a formal setting, with a gavel and the scales of justice in the foreground, symbolizing the practice of law.

Divorce is a complex emotional process as it is. But being served divorce papers unexpectedly, or otherwise unwillingly, just makes matters worse. If you feel at a loss in handling this situation, follow along to discover how one of the seasoned divorce attorneys in Nassau County of Barrows Levy PLLC can support you through every step of this process.

What is the official way to serve divorce papers in the state of New York?

If you were caught off guard by being served divorce papers, below is a comprehensive guide on how the process was handled, according to New York state guidelines:

  1. Before you were served divorce papers, your spouse likely hired an attorney who prepared a divorce complaint and filed it with the New York court. This had to be done to begin the divorce proceedings, as it was used as proof that your spouse was suing you for divorce.
  2. Then, you were likely served a document titled Summons and Complaint for Divorce. This document states that your spouse is suing you for divorce and also outlines what they want to receive in the settlement agreement. Later on, the New York court will use this document to hear and determine your case.
  3. Additionally, this document must have been served to you within 10 days of your spouse’s attorney filing the divorce complaint. It must have also been personally hand-delivered by your spouse to you unless you agreed that it can be delivered through an attorney. If this is not the case, then contact our firm today to fight against it.

What steps should I take after being served divorce papers?

After being served divorce papers, it is required that you respond to the court within a certain period of time. You may have to serve your spouse with a copy of your response as well. Specifically, in the state of New York, you have 20 days to do so. Failure will lead the New York court to assume that you do not contest the divorce and that you agree to all of the terms written in the summons. Ultimately, this will grant your spouse the divorce, and everything else that they requested in the settlement, by default.

Further, it is necessary that you know your options when it comes to divorce proceedings. For example, you and your spouse can decide to call off your divorce, take it to court, or settle an agreement through different types of dispute resolutions, such as mediation, collaboration, or arbitration. To help you navigate what avenue is in your best interest, consult with a knowledgeable Nassau County divorce lawyer today.


If you need a Nassau County lawyer who has significant experience handling family and estate planning matters, contact Barrows Levy PLLC to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today. 

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