I am sorry to hear this.
Fortunately, for child custody cases, the court will look to the best interests of the child in determining which parent should have custody.
The court puts great emphasis on both personal hygiene and school attendance.
School attendance is mandatory: http://www.nyhen.org/laws.htm#3205
However, a medical reason is considered an excused absence; but if the home environment is such that the child is suffering from recurring medical conditions due to non hygenic surroundings, that would be a factor for the court to consider during the evaluation.
The court papers must be served by a third party- a parent cannot serve another parent. The server must be at least 18 years old, and personal service is required.
affidavit here: https://www.nycourts.gov/CourtHelp/GoingToCourt/affidavitService.shtml
So if service was defective, it can be redone without getting a new docket number; many will hire a professional server to avoid any errors.
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