Staten Island Family Divorce Attorney

What is a Default? (New York Edition)

When a defendant or respondent fails to respond to your summons in a divorce or family court matter within the time frame provided for by the court, that person has “defaulted.” Every state handles the default process differently. This blog entry will focus upon New York’s default divorce process.


The default divorce process will differ depending upon the nature of your case. Frankly, the method used depends upon the jurisdiction (state or county) and whether property distribution is or is not involved.

No Property or Debt to Distribute with Children:

Depending upon the manner in which your spouse was served with the divorce summons, you must wait between 20 and 30 days before the defendant will be considered to be in default. Then you must wait an additional 40 calendar days before submitting the following documents to the court:

· Proposed Judgment of Divorce

· Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law

· Child Support Worksheet

· Certificate of Dissolution of Marriage

· Affirmation of Regularity

· Plaintiff’s Affidavit

· Plaintiff’s Verified Complaint

· Proof of Service of Summons with Notice

· Proof of Filing of Summons

· Note of Issue

· Request for Judicial Intervention

· Child Support Registration Form

Once these documents are submitted to the Court, we wait for your case to be finalized. The finalization process takes between 4-6 months for matters filed in Staten Island. Matters filed in New York County can take less time, while matters filed in Brooklyn and Queens Counties can take much longer.

Property and Debts to Be Distributed:

Generally, when there is significant property and/or debt to be distributed, or when spousal support is requested, a court will require the plaintiff to “go to inquest.” The concept of going to inquest consists of the Plaintiff and his or her lawyer presenting evidence to a judge regarding the parties’ marital estate (home, bank accounts, debts, etc.) The Plaintiff’s need for spousal support, etc. would also need to be proven.

The inquest proceeding requires a court appearance.