Last Updated On: October 10, 2023

What Is One Signature Divorce in New York?

What happens if you want to divorce your spouse, but you don’t know where they are, or they have failed to or refused to respond to a summons? It is still possible to get a divorce without a spouse’s signature in New York if you follow the necessary steps. 

While divorce can be a messy process in the best of cases, it can further complicate matters when one spouse is not locatable or refuses to cooperate. Fortunately, New York City divorce attorneys have options in these instances. At Juan Luciano Divorce Attorney, our team of New York divorce lawyers may be able to help you file for divorce without the signature of your spouse. Call us today at (212) 537-5859 to schedule a consultation.

Your Spouse is Legally Entitled to Know About Your Intention to Divorce

Here in New York, it is possible to get a divorce with only one spouse’s signature. While it is often referred to as a “no signature required” divorce, that is a bit of a misnomer.

All reasonable measures must be taken to locate and notify your spouse of your intention to divorce. This allows them the opportunity to hire an attorney or prepare their own defense. But if you are unable to locate your spouse or he or she refuses to sign or even acknowledge the paperwork, you do have options.

The usual legal process for divorcing in New York requires one spouse to petition the other by serving divorce papers, with the receiving spouse acknowledging service and returning the paperwork. Consequently, if you intend to divorce your spouse, you must first serve him or her with a Summons with a Notice or a Summons and Complaint. 

Your spouse is then required to respond within 20 days. If the receiving spouse hasn’t responded within the given amount of time, their lack of a response is considered a default, and the divorce can proceed. 

But there are instances when spouses have not been together for a significant period of time. One may have no idea where the other resides, where they work, or how to locate them. 

Because a default can only occur if the recipient spouse has been served, if that spouse can’t be located, he or she may be served by publication. When a spouse cannot be found to serve a summons, the petitioning spouse can request a Motion to Serve by Publication. This will allow notice to be filed in a newspaper or at the courthouse to advise the unlocatable spouse of your intention to divorce. 

Can You Get a Divorce Without the Other Person Signing

In New York, it is possible to secure a divorce without the signature of your spouse. The process begins with the filing spouse serving the other spouse with divorce papers. In these situations, the other spouse has a set period to respond – 20 days if they are in New York, or 30 days if they are located outside of the state.

If the served spouse defaults, which means they do not respond within the specified time frame, the court may proceed to grant a default judgment in favor of the filing spouse. This can lead to the divorce being finalized without the other party’s signature or direct involvement.

However, it’s important to note that obtaining a divorce without the other party’s cooperation can be a complex process. The court must be satisfied that the other party was properly served and had enough time and opportunity to respond.

Furthermore, all marital issues such as property division, child custody, and spousal support must be adequately addressed. These issues can be particularly complicated to resolve without the input or agreement of the other party, which is why it’s highly recommended to engage the services of an experienced family law attorney.

An experienced New York divorce attorney can help navigate the intricacies of this process, ensure that all necessary steps are followed correctly, and work tirelessly to protect your rights during the divorce proceedings. While it’s technically possible to get a divorce without your spouse’s signature, having a skilled legal counsel can significantly ease the process and provide you with the peace of mind that every aspect of your case is being handled professionally and effectively.

Taking Reasonable Steps to Find the Other Spouse

While serving by publication is a valuable option, the petitioning spouse must first provide evidence that they have made every reasonable effort to find the defendant spouse and prove that to the court. In the motion, the judge will want to see exactly what measures were taken to locate the other spouse to ensure that you have taken reasonable measures to find them. 

This means that you, as a petitioning spouse, must keep a list of any attempted contacts and what was found through these investigations. You will want to save any correspondence, documents, or other information that you send, receive, or are returned as undeliverable. 

Once the court is convinced that the petitioning spouse has made all reasonable attempts to find the other, it will grant permission to publish a notice of the divorce in the paper for a period of three weeks. If no response is forthcoming from that publication, you may proceed with the divorce on your own. 

Filing for divorce is never pleasant but having the right legal counsel to guide you through can help. If you have questions about filing for divorce in New York or are interested in how a one-signature divorce may work for your situation, we would be happy to help. At the law offices of Juan Luciano Divorce Attorney, our skilled team of New York City divorce lawyers is with you each step of the way. Contact us at (212) 537-5859 to schedule a consultation. 

Legal Process of Notifying a Spouse of Intent to Divorce Details
Petition and Service Initiate divorce by serving divorce papers (Summons with Notice or Summons and Complaint) to the spouse.
Response Period The receiving spouse acknowledges service and responds within 20 days.
Default Consideration If the receiving spouse doesn’t respond within the specified time, it’s considered a default, allowing the divorce to proceed.
Serving by Publication If one spouse cannot be located, Motion to Serve by Publication is requested.
Notice Publication A notice is filed in a newspaper or courthouse to inform the unlocatable spouse of the intention to divorce.

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