Service of Papers Rules- Family Court of the State of New York

The petition and/or summons that was just given to you MUST be served to the respondent AT LEAST EIGHT (8)
DAYS PRIOR to the court date you were given.

The individual that may serve papers can be one of the following:

  •   A friend of family member (MUST BE AT LEAST 18 YEARS OLD AND NOT A PARTY TO THE CASE)
  •   A process server (for a fee)
  •   A police officer (they are not obligated to do so)
  •   A sheriff (for a fee)

The person who serves the respondent must complete and notarize the "Affidavit of Service". You MUST bring the
COMPLETED AND SIGNED AFFIDAVIT on your court date.

Papers MAY NOT be served on a Sunday, unless they are ORDER OF PROTECTION or SUMMONS FOR ORDER OF
PROTECTION. If you are unable to have the papers properly served, come in on your court date and ask the judge
what your next step should be.                       
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Process Serving Methods Used in New York State

Personal Service. It is the best service  because the named defendant/respondent receives the court documents in
hand
. Most divorce summonses and petitions, Family Court visitation petitions, custody petitions and orders of
protection must be served in person.

Substituted Service. If the named defendant is not present, it is acceptable to serve process upon a person of
suitable age and discretion who resides at the defendant place of abode or who is authorized to accept process on
behalf of said defendant. Matrimonial cases and Family Court Visitation/Custody cases
may not be served in this
manner but Child Support petitions, landlord/tenant cases and civil summonses and complaints may be served by
using this method.

Conspicuous Place Service. If the defendant resides at the address provided but refuses to open the entrance door
to his home to accept process, in most cases, a Notice to Tenant, Demand for Payment of Rent, Notice of Petition
Non-payment, Notice of Petition Holdover, Summons and Complaint may be served upon said defendant by affixing it
on the entrance door of said premises.  True copies of the pleadings affixed must be also be mailed by regular mail. In
some cases both regular mail and certified mail are required to complete service.

Service by Mail. In some cases , New York  courts will only require that service of process be effected by mailing true
copies of the summons and complaint by regular mail or by certified mail or both. In some cases, postal service return
receipt service is also required. This manner of service must be expressly authorized by the court. Examples of papers
served by this method are Orders to Show Cause and  Small Claims Court Notice of Claim (In New York City, the Small
Claims Court usually mails the notices on your behalf).

Service by publication. As a last resort, service of process by publication is acceptable, if ordered by a judge, when
personal service or substituted service cannot be completed. For example for a defendant whose last known place of
abode was in the City of New York and the process server has attempted service at said address multiple times and
issued an affidavit of attempted service (due diligence affidavit), a court may order that the summons be published by
a major newspaper which circulates in the City of New York.  This manner of service is the most expensive because
publishing a summons on a New York City newspaper (Usually the court decides which newspaper you must use) may
cost you from $800-$4000.