How to Serve a Support Summons in Family Law? 

A Support Summons is a court document that tells you when and where to appear in Family Court to receive support (money) from your ex-spouse. It usually includes a child support petition, financial disclosure form and other court documents. 

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In a support case, the person filing for support is called the Petitioner and the person against whom the petition is filed is called the Respondent. Both parties have the right to a lawyer. However, if you can’t afford to pay for a lawyer, you may be able to get legal help at no cost through Cornell Legal Aid or some neighborhood legal service groups. 

How to Serve a Support Summons? 

The first thing you need to do in a support case is file the petition for support and other papers with the court. Typically, you’ll take these papers to the court clerk in your county and they will stamp them with the date, time and possibly a file number. 

Make copies of these forms, and keep them for your records. Then, you will need to serve the other party a copy of the papers. Some courts require process servers to do this, but others allow you to do it yourself by mail or hand delivery. 

When you serve the other party, make sure to use a name that is familiar to them. This can include a mother, father, another title they go by or their role in the case. 

You also want to be sure to include all addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of your ex-spouse or your children in the documents. This will make it easier to follow up if you need to talk about your case. 

If your ex-spouse is not served with the paperwork in a timely manner, the court will enter a default against them. A default can affect all the decisions that the court makes in your case, including custody and parenting time. If you’re in this situation, you can try to have the default set aside and file a motion with the court to have your case heard again. 

Then, you’ll need to send copies of the summons and your response to the other party. Some courts have a specific form for this, so you should check with the court before serving them. 

Service by Mail 

If service by mail is required, you must mail the summons and other papers to the respondent’s correct address. You must also provide a receipt or proof of delivery to the court as evidence of the mailing. 

Personal Service 

If personal service is required, you must personally deliver a copy of the petition and summons to the respondent at their home or place of business. If you cannot do this, the court can order a substitute service. 

This means that a substitute person of suitable age and discretion will be at the dwelling or business address to hand the summons to the person. You may have to wait up to several days for substitute service to be completed.