This article will provide guidance on How To File Documents in New York Courts.  Court filing is the very first step in initiating legal proceedings. Pursuing a lawsuit, joining an ongoing case, or reopening an old case all become impossible unless one files the required documents to the local court. Both self-represented parties and solicitors can submit documents. Typical case initiation documents consist of a complaint, summons, and cover sheet. The court clerk will carefully review the submitted documents. The documents need to meet specific criteria to be verified by the clerk. For efficient and thorough filing, consult the relevant court and review the applicable civil procedure code early on.  If you found this article helpful, kindly consider leaving us a review. Click the link to share your feedback, and we would greatly appreciate a five-star review.

Service of process in New York calls for a steady hand and the knowledge to execute the service in a way that will stand up in court. Undisputed Legal and its affiliated process servers have earned the confidence of law firms and individual attorneys because we consistently provide reliable service. Timely and accurate filing of documents is crucial for a successful legal case. Failure to file legal papers within the statute of limitations may result in the judge dismissing the case without prejudice. The plaintiff is permanently prohibited from continuing the lawsuit. Missed deadlines in ongoing cases can have negative consequences, and we aim to prevent that at Undisputed Legal.

Structure of courts in New York State

Trials begin in trial courts. Parties may request a higher court to reconsider a case through an appeal, although most cases are decided at the trial-court level. Appeals are initially heard in intermediate appellate courts, which review lower court decisions to ensure proper application of the law. In most circumstances, the Court of Appeals is the last and highest court in New York State. Located in Albany, the Court is made up of a chief justice and six associate judges who are all nominated by the governor with the advice and permission of the senate and serve fourteen-year terms. 

The Civil Court of the City of New York handles lawsuits for damages up to USD 25000. It has a small claims section for cases up to USD 5000 and a housing section for landlord-tenant matters. The Criminal Court of the City of New York deals with misdemeanors and lesser offenses. Misdemeanors are crimes that can result in a fine or imprisonment of up to one year. Criminal Court judges handle arraignments and preliminary hearings for felonies.

The Supreme Court handles cases beyond the jurisdiction of lower courts, including civil matters with larger sums of money, divorce and separation proceedings, and felony criminal prosecutions.  The Family Court deals with various issues related to children and families, such as adoption, guardianship, foster care, juvenile delinquency, family violence, child abuse and neglect, and child support, custody, and visitation. 

Appeals In New York State

Appellate courts are higher-level courts that review decisions made by lower courts. Intermediate appellate courts are an important component of the judicial system. They serve as a bridge between trial courts and higher appellate courts. These courts review decisions made by trial courts to ensure they

The Appellate Terms of the Supreme Court in the First and Second Departments handle appeals of decisions made in cases originating from the New York City Civil and Criminal Courts. The Appellate Terms in the Second Department also handle appeals from cases in District, City, Town, and Village Courts. The County Courts in the Third and Fourth Departments serve as trial courts. However, they also handle appeals of decisions made in cases from the City Courts, Town Courts, and Village Courts.

The Court of Appeals handles civil and criminal appeals from the state’s intermediate appellate courts and some appeals from the trial courts. The Court of Appeals hears appeals of decisions made by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which reviews allegations of misconduct against judges. The Court of Appeals also sets rules for attorney admission to the New York State Bar. The court system is divided into four judicial departments and thirteen judicial districts for administrative purposes. 

Court help centers provide assistance and support to individuals involved in legal proceedings. New York State courts have on-site help centers to assist individuals without legal representation. The offices have clerks and court attorneys who offer free legal information, referrals, court forms, and publications. Certain centers offer volunteer lawyers who provide free legal advice to individuals without an attorney.

Introduction to Legal Process Serving in New York City

It is the responsibility of the person initiating legal action to serve notice of the case and provide any relevant legal papers to the defendant. The individual being sued may learn more about the allegations made against them and the steps they need to take to respond to the lawsuit. These legal papers, such as a subpoena or summons, are referred to as ‘process’ documents. ‘Service’ refers to physically delivering the papers to the other party. The right to know whether or not a lawsuit has been filed against oneself is guaranteed under the Constitution. State governments frequently establish regulations for who may deliver papers and when. New York has its own rules and regulations, just like anywhere else.

The preferred method of serving legal documents is ‘personal service,’ which entails handing the documents off to the defendant or plaintiff. When possible, service of process should be made in person so there is no room for dispute about whether or not the recipient got the papers in issue.  Delivery by another means may be necessary if direct contact delivery is not feasible. New York law permits leaving legal papers with a third party in such situations. Legal paperwork may be served by leaving it with a person of suitable age and discretion at the address or place of business used by the party being served.

There are extra procedures to follow when leaving papers with a third party. A copy of the legal papers must also be sent by first-class mail to the party’s customary address or place of business once the process server has personally delivered them. If the recipient is a company, the envelope must be labeled ‘personal and confidential,’, and there should be no other indication that the contents are from a legal firm.

Except in family law cases, serving a party in a lawsuit at their authorized agent may be possible. If the process server has exhausted all other means of service and has used reasonable effort, the papers may be attached to the door of the dwelling or business (also known as ‘Nail and Mail’). This is not the best solution and should only be used in extreme emergencies. To complete the second part of this two-step process, the papers must be addressed to the individual served at their last known address within twenty days following the ‘nailing.’

Some New York laws and rules may not apply depending on the nature of the business and the customers being serviced. Researching and comprehending up-to-date law codes and best practices while dealing with legal concerns is essential since laws are susceptible to change. At Undisputed Legal, we make sure that our local process servers have an excellent knowledge of the law both within and out of New York. 

Understanding the role of the county clerk in New York City

County clerks’ offices are government offices responsible for maintaining and managing official records and documents at the county level. The five County Clerks serve as jury commissioners in New York City and handle various non-jury tasks. These tasks include maintaining Supreme Court case records, certifying Supreme Court documents, filing business certificates, and collecting fees for court document filings. 

In New York City, County Clerks fulfill the role of clerks for the Supreme and County Courts. They are responsible for maintaining records, collecting fees for court document filings, and performing various record-keeping tasks, some of which are court-related.  Court interpreting services are available to assist individuals who do not speak the language used in court proceedings.  The court system’s criminal history database covers all sixty-two counties in New York State. The Criminal History Record Unit of the courts offers criminal history searches to public agencies, private companies, and the public for a fee.

How to file in New York City

Legal documents can be filed electronically or in physical form. Filing documents in court in person. The lawyer will collect and personally submit the required documents from the plaintiff to the appropriate court or jurisdiction. The paperwork should be accurately completed, ensuring all necessary information is provided, and the appropriate number of copies are included. Electronic filing refers to storing and organizing documents in a digital format rather than using physical paper files.

E-filing is conducted entirely online. An electronic filing service provider acts as a middleman between lawyers or filers and the court system. E-filing allows for the submission of legal paperwork during court closures. Digital file storage reduces the risk of loss or damage. Court filing costs vary based on the specific court, case type, and paperwork. Filing fees can be waived for individuals who can demonstrate that paying them would cause financial hardship. The court clerk will explain the filing fees and determine if a plaintiff can be exempt from paying them.

Filing forms and papers can be challenging and time-consuming. Undisputed Legal manages paperwork for clients, allowing them to concentrate on building a stronger case. Undisputed Legal assists you and your lawyers in filing cases through the NYSCEF system as an authorized e-filing agency. Submitting a Statement of Authorization (SOA) and scanned copies of the required law firm or attorney are necessary documents for e.

Filing for divorce.

To initiate a divorce, a party needs to serve their spouse with either a summons and complaint for divorce or a summons and notice of the divorce action.  Typically, ‘serve’ refers to the personal delivery of a summons to the spouse, with formal documentation. If personal delivery is not possible, the court may permit alternative methods of service. After serving the spouse, the party must file the summons and proof of service in court.

Any individual can file for divorce even if they do not know their spouse’s current address, as long as they have made reasonable efforts to locate them without success. The lawyer can request court approval to publish a divorce notice in a newspaper. The court may grant a default divorce if the spouse does not appear.

To file for divorce in New York City, one must meet at least one of the residency conditions, being [A.] one spouse must have resided in the New York jurisdiction for the past twenty-four months; [B.] the marriage ceremony must have taken place there and at least one spouse must have lived in the state for the past twelve months, including at the time of filing; [C.] both spouses must have lived together in the state as a married couple. 

The requirements for serving papers in New York are more stringent than in other states. Know how to effectively deliver service of process whether they need to serve a party in one of the five boroughs or someone who lives in a tiny hamlet upstate. Avoiding case delays and having legal issues dismissed due to improper service may be accomplished with a firm grasp of the fundamental laws governing successful service of process. Please click here to watch the video on divorce.

Small claims court in New york City

Specific rules apply when using a public agency, city, town, or village. Small claims courts can be used to sue government entities such as school districts, towns, villages, cities, county agencies, or public benefit corporations. It is necessary to notify the agency within ninety days. Notification to the agency is a prerequisite for filing a lawsuit. The Court can dismiss the case for being late.

It is then necessary to obtain the notice form from the agency being sued and identify the preferred method of service. Certain notifications can be sent electronically, so all that needs to be done is to complete the form and send the notification. The agency has three possible actions: offering a settlement, denying the claim, or not responding. If the case is not settled within thirty days, they initiate legal action in Small Claims Court.

Small Claims Court does not have jurisdiction over lawsuits against the federal government or state agencies.  The required documentation includes photos, written agreements, letters, and other relevant documents. Additionally, itemized bills, canceled checks, receipts or invoices, proof of payment, and evidence of damaged items should be provided. 

To request funds for repairs or services, it is necessary to provide two signed, itemized written estimates as evidence to substantiate the request. Undisputed Legal will inquire with the Court about the appropriate time to retrieve the evidence after the trial.

What happens if the respondent fails to show up in the courts?

The server must be an adult, eighteen years or older, and can be a friend or relative. No one involved in this case can be the server. Another option is to hire a process service agency like Undisputed Legal.  We also recommend submitting a written notification along with a copy of the settlement agreement to inform the Court Clerk of any pre-trial agreements. If a party needs additional time to finalize the agreement, contacting the Court to inquire about the possibility of postponing the case or if they are required to appear on the trial date is necessary. This way, the party can ask for a postponement, known as an Adjournment Pending Settlement. 

Failure to appear in court when the case is called will result in dismissal of the case. If the defendant is not present in court within one hour of the scheduled time, the court will proceed with the case without the defendant. Sufficient evidence can lead to a successful outcome in a case. The Court will enter a default judgment against the defendant if this occurs. Defendants in default judgment cases can inquire with the Court Clerk about the process of reopening a case.

Acceptable Proof of Service for Service of Process

Evidence of service, or evidence that a legal document was given to the correct recipient, is required by law. Affidavits are often used to prove service of process to the court. However, it’s worth noting that New York and other states may have varying requirements for evidence of service.

It is crucial that you choose an experienced process server to handle your legal documents. However, just because the papers meet the requirements in one state does not guarantee that they are acceptable in all of them. How legal papers need to be served varies from state to state, according to the civil procedural laws in effect. Therefore, a lawyer with just experience in Connecticut or New Jersey may not be up to speed on the intricacies of New York law. The whole case might be dismissed if the process server botches the service. Undisputed Legal assures you about quality and efficient process. We ensure that your papers are cared for, and our local process servers in every state can ensure your papers comply with different jurisdictions.

Different process servers may also have varying degrees of speed and efficiency. If you need legal documents served quickly, our process servers at Undisputed Legal use technology like address validation and GPS tagging. Service of process in New York is easier with Undisputed Legal’s Assistance.

We use state-of-the-art technology to facilitate the service of process and guarantee compliance with local regulations. With our system at Undisputed Legal, you get real-time information on the status of your case at any moment. In addition, our platform makes it simple for solicitors and process servers to submit any supplementary paperwork they may need to ensure that delays are kept to a minimum. If a defendant is not given enough notice of a court’s proceedings, the court lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant under the Due Process provisions of the United States Constitution.


Court service requests can be faxed at (800) 296-0115, emailed to, mailed to 590 Madison Avenue, 21st Floor, New York, New York  10022, uploaded on our website, or dropped off at any of our locations. We do require pre-payment and accept all major credit and debit cards. Once payment is processed, your sales receipt is immediately emailed for your records.

Drop-offs must call and make an appointment first to be added to building security to permit access to our office. Documents for service must be in a sealed envelope with payment in the form of a money order or attorney check (WE DO NOT ACCEPT CASH) payable to UNDISPUTED LEGAL INC.; Our receptionist will receive all documents.  Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers!


New York: (212) 203-8001 – 590 Madison Avenue, 21st Floor, New York, New York 10022
Brooklyn: (347) 983-5436 – 300 Cadman Plaza West, 12th Floor, Brooklyn, New York 11201
Queens: (646) 357-3005 – 118-35 Queens Blvd, Suite 400, Forest Hills, New York 11375
Long Island: (516) 208-4577 – 626 RXR Plaza, 6th Floor, Uniondale, New York 11556
Westchester: (914) 414-0877 – 50 Main Street, 10th Floor, White Plains, New York 10606
Connecticut: (203) 489-2940 – 500 West Putnam Avenue, Suite 400, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830
New Jersey: (201) 630-0114 – 101 Hudson Street, 21 Floor, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
Washington DC: (202) 655-4450 – 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Suite 300, Washington DC 20004


Pick up the phone and call (212) 203-8001, or click the service you want to purchase.   Our dedicated team of professionals is ready to assist you. We can handle all your court service needs; no job is too small or too large!

Contact us for more information about our process-serving agency. We are ready to provide New York City service of process to all our clients globally from our offices in New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives”– Foster, William A


1. In addition to leading the Court of Appeals, the New York State Chief Administrative Judge is the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. This court articulates the state’s guiding legal principles in resolving legal disputes.

2. There are four Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court, one in each judicial department. The Appellate Divisions handle civil and criminal appeals from trial courts and civil appeals from the Appellate Terms and County Courts.

3. The First Judicial Department consists of districts 1 and 12. The Second Judicial Department includes districts 2, 9, 10, 11, and 13. The Third Judicial Department covers districts 3, 4, and 6. The Fourth Judicial Department encompasses districts 5, 7, and 8.

4. E-Filing is growing in popularity in the US. This service is available in several New York counties, such as Orange, Rockland, Bronx, Westchester, and Putnam.

5. The deadline for filing is one year and 90 days.


The information contained herein has been prepared in compliance with Section 107 of the Copyright Act. Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works. The articles/Images contained herein serve as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, educational, and research-as examples of activities that qualify as fair use. Undisputed Legal Inc. is a Process Service Agency and “Not A Law Firm” therefore the articles/images contained herein are for educational purposes only, and not intended as legal advice.