Q: Respondent did not get served order to show cause for a custody modification. An inquest was scheduled and a modification, terminating visitation, granted, along with the judge, of her own accord, conducting and providing background check results, such as warrant, arrest, and jail records, information to petitioner. Is it not the duty of the judge to see to it that service and process are completed prior to allowing a case to proceed? Where exactly does a “fair and impartial” constitutionally sworn officer get the authority to execute records searches and provide the results to a moving party, especially after not ensuring due process hasn’t been afforded?
A: The short answer is yes, the respondent is entitled to be served. That said, under NYS law, there’s a variety of ways to serve someone. As one example, if they attempted to serve you 3 times & were unable to do so, then it’s possible the Judge authorized “substituted service” – which could entail leaving the summons at your door & mailing it. That said, if you never received the summons, your next step should be to file a motion to vacate your default. Schedule a consult with a Westchester family Law attorney for a full assessment.