How long do I have to Serve the Summons and Verified complaint for divorce in NYS

Asked over 1 year ago - Scarsdale, NY

I filed a summons and verified complaint April 2012 and did not serve these papers to my ex until February 2013. I requested a divorce my default and was granted it recently because my ex did not contest the papers. She has now told me that she plans on requesting the judge to vacate the default divorce because I was supposed to serve the summons and verified complaint within 120 days of filing it. Could a judge grant her petition to vacate the divorce?

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Jeffrey B. Peltz


    Contributor Level 15


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It is possible that a judge may vacate the judgment by default. If she does make the motion, I suggest that you immediately consult with an experienced divorce attorney near you.

  2. Jayson Lutzky


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The judge should vacate the default judgment for failure serve within 120 days. Consult with an attorney as soon as possible to help you.

    If this answer is helpful, then please mark the helpful button. If this is the best answer, then please indicate... more
  3. David Ivan Bliven


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Generally one has 120 from the filing date to serve the summons & complaint. It's that's her only basis for moving to vacate, however, she'll likely lose. Generally one needs a "reasonable excuse" for one's default as well as a meritorious defense. Serving the papers late does not support either one of those items. In any event, I suggest that you schedule a follow-up consultation with a Westchester Divorce attorney for a full assessment.

    * If you found my answer to be "HELPFUL," or the "BEST ANSWER," please feel free to mark it accordingly.
  4. Jennifer L. Fazio

    Contributor Level 5


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . You have 120 days from the commencement of the divorce action during which to serve your spouse. If your spouse makes a motion to vacate, you should also file a motion to have the service considered acceptable ("nunc pro tunc"). Good luck.

  5. Theodore W. Robinson

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . You have 120 days to serve a Summons and Complaint after it is filed with the County Clerk's office. You may extend that time by requesting an extension. If you fail to extend, your action/default may be subject to dismissal by the Court. However, as the last attorney pointed out, your wife failed to answer in a timely fashion and she must show good cause for her failure in order to overturn your failure to timely serve. However, it has been my experience that most Courts disfavor defaults and want both parties before them to finalize a Divorce, so they are often lenient in granting vacatur of a Default taken in the fashion you claim occurred. I suggest you hire an experienced matrimonial attorney and go over the case carefully and consider settling with her nonetheless so the issue of default and lack of timeliness disappears completely.

    Good luck.

    You may call our office at 516-248-6600 or send an email to us at This answer does not form... more

Related Topics


Divorce is the process of formally ending a marriage. Divorces may be jointly agreed upon, resolved by negotiation, or decided in court.

Serving divorce papers

Service of process in divorce is the official term for notifying the defendant spouse that a divorce petition was filed with the court.

Avvo Staff

I Want a Divorce, But I Can't Find My Spouse

If you've been separated from your spouse for an extended period of time, you might decide to take the next step and file for divorce. But what happens if you've lost track of your spouse... more

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask a Lawyer

Get free answers from experienced attorneys.


Ask now

33,930 answers this week

3,653 attorneys answering

Ask a Lawyer

Get answers from top-rated lawyers.

  • It's FREE
  • It's easy
  • It's anonymous

33,930 answers this week

3,653 attorneys answering