Process Service for a Child Custody Case

The State of New York recognizes that, in a custody case, all parties have a right to prove that they uphold the best interest of the child. That’s why when you start a NY custody case, you are obliged to notify the other parent through process service. A copy of the summons and complaint (as well as other legal documents you have filed) should be delivered to the other party.

If the other party doesn’t receive the court documents, the court won’t be given jurisdiction and will have no power to proceed with the case. It is important, therefore, that the process of service should be followed diligently.

Process Serving in Custody Cases

The type of petition to be filed and the court where it will be filed depends on the situation. For instance, if two individuals are married and are in the middle of a divorce proceeding, one or both of the parents file for custody as part of the divorce. If the parents are already divorced, the party that doesn’t have custody may file a petition to modify the custody order. If the parents were never married, either parent could file for custody.

Once the appropriate petition is filed, the other party should be served with:

  • A copy of the filed Complaint for Custody
  • A copy of the Summons
  • A copy of the Joint Preliminary Injunction (if filed)

The party that filed the case keeps the original document, which will be returned to the court for filing after the other parent has been served. The petition and summons should be served at least eight days before the first court appearance.

family spending time together

Forms of Process Service in Custody Cases

In child custody cases, hand delivery, also known as personal service, is the most effective and reliable form of process service. It eliminates any doubt that the other party received the court documents and has been formally notified of the case.

In case personal service is not possible, the family court may choose to mail the summons to the recipient, especially in cases where a party seeks to modify a custody order. The mail should be clearly labeled “personal and confidential” to maintain security. The family court can also allow a substitute service, where the papers are served to a person of suitable age and discretion at the residence or place of business of the other party.

Another form of service is nail and mail, in which the papers are “nailed” to the door of the recipient’s residence or place of business and then mailed within 20 days. When the recipient appears in court after receiving the mail and submits to jurisdiction, they cannot blame the manner of process service as the problem. After all, the papers affixed to the door could not have been missed.

Choose Seasoned Process Servers

Because the child’s interest is at stake, summons and petitions must be delivered to the involved parties promptly.

Serve Index LLC has years of experience in serving papers in custody cases in New York. We employ effective tracing methods to locate the individuals in question so that you can proceed with your custody case.

Inquire about our services today. Contact us to get a free quote.

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