To begin a divorce case, a "Summons with Notice" or a "Summons with Complaint" are filed with the County Clerk's office in the county where either party resides. These documents set out the grounds for the divorce and the relief requested, such as child custody and support, division of property etc.
An index number will then be issued for the case by the county clerk for a fee of $210.00.
The Defendant spouse must then be served with the Summons in person within 120 calendar days from this date by a third party server, ie friend or professional process server. This means that the Summons must be personally delivered to the Defendant spouse, and not by mail or through a house letter box. However the Defendant spouse cannot be served on a Sunday or US Holiday.
The Summons gives the Defendant spouse 20 days to answer the allegations in the Summons (30 days if residing outside of New York State). If the Defendant spouse wishes to contest the allegations, or feels that property, custody and support issues are not resolved, then he or she must appear in the action by serving a "Notice of Appearance" on the Plaintiff spouse or attorney. This act will pause the divorce application process until such matters can be considered and resolved by a judge or mediation. If the Defendant spouse does not submit a Notice of Appearance within the designated time period, then the divorce will be granted on default.
To file for divorce in New York, one of the following residency conditions must apply -
1. Both parties are residents of New York State, and the cause of the divorce arose in New York.
2. One of the parties resides in New York for at least one year, and the cause of the divorce arose in New York.
3. One party is a resident of New York for at least one year, and the marriage took place in New York.
4. Either party is a resident of New York for at least two years.
5. One party is a resident of New York for at least one year, and the parties have resided in the state as husband and wife.