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How is an Action for Divorce Commenced?

Kahn and Richardson - Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Once you have selected your attorney and you decide to begin an Action for Divorce, the usual first steps are to prepare and file a Summons and Verified Complaint. If you are the one commencing the Action, you are the "plaintiff."


The Summons and Verified Complaint set forth, among other things, your demand for a divorce, the ground or reason upon which you claim you are entitled to a divorce, and all ancillary relief you are seeking, such as custody of children, child support, spousal support and equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities. A "verified" pleading (such as the Complaint) is one signed by the pleading party, swearing to the truth of the pleading’s contents.


The Summons and Verified Complaint is filed in the county clerk’s office in the county where you or your spouse lives. A unique index number is issued to your Action by the clerk and the documents filed are date-stamped. The index number must be placed on all documents filed with the clerk or the court, as it identifies your case.


The next legal step is for a copy of the Summons and Verified Complaint to be personally served upon the "defendant," your spouse. Statute requires that the papers be directly handed to your spouse, most commonly by a professional process server, but anyone, except you, who is a New York State resident, and l8 years of age or older, may serve your spouse in the State of New York. The defendant may even pick up the papers from your attorney, if he or she agrees to do so. If the defendant is served outside New York State, the rules of the state in which he or she is served govern how personal service must be made.


Upon completion of all steps listed above, your Action for Divorce will be officially commenced.

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Practice Areas
  • Divorce
  • Separation Agreements
  • Custody & Visitation
  • Property Division
  • Spousal Maintenance
  • Child Support
  • Prenuptial Agreements

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