New York requires personal service for divorce cases. Personal service is in-person delivery of legal documents to the person you are sueing.

When you file your court papers with your County Clerk, bring 2 extra copies for the clerk to stamp with the date of entry. Keep one copy for your own records, and use the other copy to serve your spouse. Ask the clerk if you still need a notary to sign the Affidavit of Service (see step 5, below). 

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. If a notary is still required (ask the court clerk) 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.
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Last Reviewed: December 29, 2023