Skip to main content

Is there only one signature needed for a divorce for "No Fault" in New York if one spouse refuses to sign the stipulation?

Holbrook, NY |

I understand that there is "NO FAULT" divorce in NY but what happens when one spouse wants the divorce and the other refuses to sign papers?

Does it move to an INQUEST or can the divorce be filed with one signature only? What does it mean to be "properly served?"

+ Read More

Attorney answers 4


If both parties are not willing to sign one spouse will have to move forward on the divorce. The moving party must have the spouse personally served and then either move for a default judgment if there is no answer, or prove a breakdown in the relationship if the spouse fights the divorce.

If you do not want to have legal representation during the process, check out the NYS office of court administration website for information. Good luck.

I have been a criminal defense attorney in New York for over 20 years. Feel free to view my website at or contact me either by phone at 718-208-6094 or via email at This answer is only for informational purposes and is not meant as legal advice.


A stipulation is only valid if signed by both parties, and if he refuses to sign the stip, you must serve him with a summons with notice.

Next you can file an RJI and request a Preliminary conference. If he fails to show then you can proceed to an inquest.

This information does not create an attorney client relationship. For more information please fee free to contact my office at 718-942-4004


Service of papers according to the Civil Practice Law and Rules gets jurisdiction over the defendant. "Properly served" means that the rules have to be followed.

First, you file a summons and pay the fees. Then, you serve the summons and file an affidavit of service. A complaint is served properly alleging a cause of action for divorce on the ground that the marriage is "irretrievably broken". If the defendant still does nothing and defaults, you have to serve the summons and complaint again one more time, and then you can proceed to an inquest.

There are 12 or 13 sets of papers that need to be filled out correctly and served correctly. I think you would get this done a lot faster if you retained an attorney.


If one spouse refuses to sign the papers than you cannot get a "no fault" divorce based upon a Stipulation of Settlement and will have to litigate that, and other potential grounds, for the divorce.

An inquest will occur only after the other souse "defaults" by not "appearing" in the action and you can demonstrate to the Court that the defaulting spouse was properly served with the divorce papers. Proper service usually means personal in-hand service, or service upon someone of "suitable age and discretion" at the party's residence or place of business.

Proper service can also mean that you have requested, and the Court has authorized, an alternative form of service like publishing a notice in a newspaper or service of process via email. Feel free to give me a call if you would like to discuss your options I am in Commack.