The scenarios are endless. An estranged spouse hints at divorce in a text message, then deletes it before the other can read it. One posts something on Facebook that the other doesn’t see because he or she has disabled that function on the social network. Or out-of-the-blue email messages are sent to family members and others ‘in case something happens to me.
In each case, the absent spouse doesn’t find out about it until months or even years have gone by. What can they do? Is it possible for someone not to know that she has been served with divorce papers?
Can my husband divorce me without me knowing in New York State?
According to our New York Divorce Lawyer, the short answer is “Yes,” but there are limitations on how and when a spouse can serve divorce papers. You may also have some recourse available to you, depending on the circumstances surrounding your situation. For clarification, we ask that you speak with a divorce lawyer at our firm, Winkler Kurtz LLP.
The only occasions where someone isn’t required to be served with divorce papers are certain instances of ‘Informal Divorce by Agreement’ under Domestic Relations Law Section 236(B),” said Lynne Levine, a matrimonial lawyer in Scarsdale. “That is where both parties give up their rights to any form of equitable distribution or alimony, and there are no children. Otherwise, service by ‘ordinary mail’ is not valid unless it’s attached to an affidavit of diligent search signed by the party attempting to effect service.
In order for a divorce action to be initiated, the spouse who is filing the action must present a summons and petition, along with a matrimonial summons, to an authorized person. This can be done in person or by mail with an affidavit of service attached if it’s being sent through the U.S. Postal Service.
The person receives the papers and makes sure they’re given to the other spouse, together with a copy of the notice and acknowledgment of receipt and time and date for appearance, if requested,” said Levine. “If there is no appearance on the date listed on the summons, after 20 days an application can be made by motion, and then a default judgment can be entered.
There are times when it’s impractical for one spouse to serve the other. In those cases, the person attempting service has to prove he or she made a diligent search and tried to find the absent spouse by going to where they last resided together, as well as any of their known places of employment.
“It’s easy for a spouse to lie and say they made diligent efforts, but unless you hire a private detective and he or she declares otherwise, the court is going to presume that was done,” Levine said.
Contact Our New York Divorce Lawyer
Winkler Kurtz, LLP is located on Long Island and has been serving NYS residents for over 25+ years. If you’d like to contact a New York Divorce Lawyer, please schedule an appointment with our team.