Divorce is never a simple process, but there are some situations that only complicate the process. For example, there are some cases where one spouse wants a divorce and even serves a divorce summons to their spouse, but never receives a response, consenting or otherwise. There are also cases where a person is married and wants a divorce, but has been separated from their spouse and has no idea where he or she is, making it impossible to serve a divorce summons. What can people do in these cases?
In the State of New York, there are two options for obtaining a divorce without your spouse’s consent. They are "no signature required" divorce and divorce by publication. Our Westchester County divorce attorneys are here to help explain these options and to represent you as you seek a divorce.
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New York “No Signature Required” Divorce
The legal process of divorce requires that the divorce papers be formally served to the non-filing spouse, after which he or she is required to respond to the summons in order for the process to proceed. So what if he or she refuses to sign the divorce papers?
This is where "no signature required" divorce may be an option. The process can be broken down as follows:
- You file for divorce.
- You or another party formally serves the divorce notice to your spouse.
- Your spouse fails to respond to the summons within 20 days.
- The divorce may now be processed.
When a spouse is served divorce papers, he or she is legally required to respond to the summons within 20 days. If more than 20 days passes after the divorce papers have been served, then the lack of response by the other party will be considered a “default” and the divorce may still be processed.
Keep in mind that a default divorce can only occur if the other spouse knew that the divorce had been filed. You cannot obtain a “no signature required” divorce if the other spouse never received the divorce summons. To ensure that the Summons with Notice or Summons and Complaint are properly served, it is best to hire a lawyer or a process server.
Divorce by Publication in New York
Another issue that a person may face when seeking to serve divorce papers is not knowing where to find their spouse. Maybe a person has been separated from their spouse for years and hasn’t kept in contact. They don’t know where they live, where they work, or who they spend their time with. In these cases, it may be possible to obtain a divorce by publication.
First, you will need to follow a court-required process, documenting all your actions, to prove that you pursued every possible avenue to find your spouse. If at the end of that process you are still unable to locate your spouse, and the court approves of your attempts to locate him or her, then you will be required to publicize your divorce notice in the newspaper for 3 weeks. Once that has been done and your spouse has not reached out to you, then the divorce can be processed.
Need Help? Call a Divorce Lawyer in Westchester County.
Friedman & Friedman, Attorneys at Law exists to help clients obtain the smoothest divorce they possibly can and to protect their rights every step of the way. If your spouse does not want a divorce, or if you don’t know where your spouse is, we can help you find answers. Contact us today to discuss your options!