In New York, personal service is required in divorce. 

When you file your court papers with your County Clerk, be sure to bring 2 additional copies and have the clerk stamp them with the date of entry. Bring the copies home with you. Now you can arrange to have the other party served.

This is what you must do:

1. Find someone who is over 18, who is willing to serve the other party in person. (Sometimes this can be done at no cost by the County Sheriff. Ask for the Process Service department.)

2. Give that person a file-stamped copy of the DOCUMENT TO BE SERVED and A blank AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE.

3. That person (the server) must hand the DOCUMENT TO BE SERVED to the other party. Important: when that person is about to serve the paper, he or she must ask:

  • "Are you [name] and in a divorce action?"
  • "Are you in the U.S. Military?"

Also, remember, service cannot be done on a Sunday.

4. Then the server must fill out the AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE. This will be the proof that the other party was served.

5. The server then takes the AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE to a notary, signs it in front of the notary (not before), and has it notarized.

6. Last, have the server give you back the completed AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE. When you have it, make a copy, then file the original with the County Clerk. Have the Clerk stamp your copy and put it with your copies of the papers.


  • For personal service, the other party must be served in person, NOT by mail.
  • Service cannot be done on a Sunday.

Disclaimer: This material is provided to answer general questions about the law in New York State. The information and forms were created to assist readers with general issues and not specific situations, and, as such, does not replace the legal advice or representation of an attorney. Because of this and because of unanticipated changes in the law, the Rural Law Center of New York (RLC) makes no claim that this information will achieve the results you desire. Also, the RLC disclaims any responsibility for actions taken based on this material. If you are seeking advice about a specific legal issue, you should contact an attorney licensed to practice in New York State.

Was this information helpful?

Last Reviewed: February 2, 2017