If you have an immediate need for spousal support, you may file for same in Family Court. If you're looking to terminate the marriage, you may also request alimony (i.e., maintenance) within the divorce case itself. To get an estimate of what you'd receive, use the following calculator: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/divorce/calculator.pdf. You should also schedule a consultation with a Bronx Divorce attorney.
Writing a letter to - or calling - the Plaintiff's attorney is insufficient to fromally answer the complaint, as you've found. To vacate your default, you must technically file a motion to vacate your default in the action. You must generally provide a reasonable excuse for your default as well as state a "meritorious defense." I also highly recommend, at the least that you schedule a free consultation with a White Plains Divorce attorney.
First, it is possible to ask for temporary custody. Second, you should definitely not handle a contested custody case on your own. You should immediately schedule a consultation with a Bronx Child Custody attorney.
One hopes that you both served a formal, written Answer on his attorney, and then filed the original with the court along with proof of service. Assuming so, your next step would be to reach out to the attorney & ask what his client's settlement offer is. If it matches what you want, ask that a settlement agreement be drafted. If it doesn't, then make a counter-offer. Schedule a consult with a NYC/Suffolk divorce attorney for a full assessment.
In a divorce case, personal service of the summons is required (FedEx or certified mail service is thus not acceptable). That said, it also depends on what the attorney is trying to serve you with - papers served after the summons has already been served on you may be served via either regular mail or overnight delivery. For a full assessment, schedule a consultation with a NYC Divorce attorney.
You're probably better off attending than not. If the father does show up, then you will look even more bad in not appearing. Moreover, if you qualify, the court may assign you counsel who then may assist you in getting an investigator appointed (who in turn may assist in locating the father). For a full assessment, you're well-advised to schedule a consultation with a NYC Child Custody lawyer.
Formally, you must file a Notice of Appearance with the court, serve a copy on the opposing attorney and file an affidavit of service with the court that same has been served on the attorney. Some information on divorce cases may be found here: http://www.nycourts.gov/divorce/index.shtml. You're best advised to schedule a consultation with a NYC Divorce attorney.
You are still obligated on the order. In terms of correcting the order, you can simply notify SCU of the discrepancy or file a petition & get the Magistrate to amend the order. In any event, should you have further questions, I encourage you to contact a Bronx Co. Family Law attorney.
It is possible to make a post-appeal motion in the Supreme Court for counsel fees based on the appeal. Of course, the court will look not only at who the prevailing party was, but also the disparity of resources between the two of you. For a full assessment, schedule a consultation with a NYC Divorce attorney.