Beginning the Divorce Process

Long Island Matrimonial & Family Law

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If you are served with a divorce Summons (either a Summons with Notice or a Summons and Verified Complaint), you have twenty (20) days to appear in the action (thirty days if you are served outside of the state).  You are not expected to actually physically appear anywhere.  Instead, if you are served with a Summons with Notice, you or your attorney will serve and file with the County Clerk a Notice of Appearance that announces your participation in the divorce action.  It is good practice for the Notice of Appearance to include an addendum of relief that will set forth in general terms the relief that the defendant is seeking in the divorce action.  If you are served with a Summons and Verified Complaint instead of a Summons with Notice you will need to serve and file a Verified Answer that makes appropriate responses to the allegations of the plaintiff’s Verified Complaint.

Failure to respond in the appropriate manner will result in a default judgment being entered against you.  This can have dire consequences, resulting in the loss of significant financial and custodial rights.  It is therefore critically important that you contact a divorce attorney immediately upon being served with either a Summons with Notice or a Summons and Verified Complaint.

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