Divorce Process Service in New York.
Rules for Service of Process in Matrimonial Actions in New York.
Unless expressly authorized otherwise by a judge, service of process in actions for divorce must be effected in person only. Service by mail or service upon a third party (adult of suitable age residing at the same house where the defendant resides) is completely unacceptable in the State of New York. However these rules are flexible in other states. For example, Florida laws allow service of divorce papers upon a person of suitable age who resides at defendant's place of abode if the defendant is not present at the time of service.
Naturally the fact that service of process must be effected in person in New York matrimonial actions does not restrict alternate service of process if defendant is evasive of service and the judge has been informed of those circumstances through an affidavit of attempted service. Upon studying the affidavit of attempted service, in this particular situation, the judge may order "alternate service" or "nail and mail".
If the Defendant's whereabouts are not known, the process server must do due dilligence to locate and serve Defendant. If after said diligence, the process server issues an affidavit of non-service or attempted service, the judge may order or allow service by publication (Publishing the summons on a recognized local news paper). Service by publication is costly and it is a last resort option used only if all other options are not available.