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Can your spouse ignore or avoid service with divorce papers?

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2022 | Divorce |

People considering a divorce may spend weeks if not months making preparations on their own and with an attorney before they finally file paperwork. Those who anticipate a strongly negative reaction from their spouse are likely to delay as long as possible.

Once they do file papers, they will likely start to worry about how their ex will respond, or if they will respond at all. There are some adults who try to fix their problems by ignoring them. If your ex tries to avoid legal service or refuses to respond to your paperwork, can they prevent your divorce?

There are multiple ways to serve someone

It is most common for people to utilize a process server while preparing for divorce. They pay a professional to deliver paperwork after confirming the recipient’s identity. They often approach someone at their front door or place of employment, where they would think nothing of confirming their identity to a stranger.

In amicable divorces, you can potentially have anyone or the age of 18 serve the other party with the papers if they consent to the service. If your ex has repeatedly avoided attempts to serve paperwork, across the server may take alternate steps to notify them, which might include service by mail. In such circumstances, they will fill out an affidavit because they do not deliver the paperwork in person.

Ignoring the papers will do nothing for your ex

Once the service is complete, your ex has to respond or risk putting themselves at a massive disadvantage. In New York, a spouse receiving divorce paperwork only has 20 days to respond before their ex can request default proceedings. That timeline extends to 30 days if the spouse receiving the paperwork does not live in New York. If they fail to respond, the courts will typically grant the spouse who requested the divorce all of the terms they sought.

Simply put, even if your ex tries to hide from the process server or refuses to respond to the paperwork you send them, you can move forward with a divorce. You may even secure a more favorable outcome if they don’t try to counter your proposed custody or property division arrangements.

Learning more about the basics of New York divorce litigation can help you prepare to serve your spouse.