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Can you Divorce Your Spouse if You cannot Find them?

Apr 14, 2015

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Maybe you were married and you became separated. Now, your spouse has left the state and you don't have any idea where they are. Is it possible to get a divorce without their address?

Divorce by Publication

The process of getting divorced if you cannot find your spouse is called divorce by publication. It will require a few steps to successfully file and obtain a divorce.

Start by hiring an attorney and filing for divorce. It's best to have an attorney that can help you through this process, as it can be a bit confusing.

After filing for divorce, the attorney you hire will attempt to serve your missing spouse with the petition for divorce at the last known address. They may also try to serve your missing spouse at nearby relatives’ homes.

By Publication

If reaching your spouse isn't possible, your attorney will help you serve him/her "by publication." This means you will have to run a notice of intent to divorce in the local newspaper. Some states have specific guidelines for this notice, which may include:

  • That you have filed for divorce
  • A description of property you owned together that will be affected by the divorce
  • The name of the court, your attorney and your name

If your spouse doesn't respond within the specified amount of time, you will be granted a divorce by default. The notice ay have to run once a week for a specific period before this type of divorce will be granted.

It's likely that the court will give you custody of children and any property from the marriage if your spouse doesn't respond. However, if your spouse does respond, the divorce will move forward in a more normal fashion. Make sure you listen to the advice of your attorney, as the laws governing this type of divorce can be a bit confusing.



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