How can I get a divorce if I don’t know where my spouse lives?

If you want a divorce but don’t know where your spouse lives, the process can be more challenging, but it’s still possible to move forward with the divorce proceedings. Here’s what typically happens in such situations:

  1. Attempt to Locate Spouse: You may need to make reasonable efforts to locate your spouse. This might involve searching through public records, contacting friends or relatives who may know their whereabouts, or hiring a private investigator. Document your efforts to demonstrate to the court that you’ve made a genuine attempt to find your spouse.
  2. Service by Publication: If you’re unable to locate your spouse after making reasonable efforts, you may be allowed to serve them with divorce papers through a legal process called “service by publication.” This involves publishing a notice in a newspaper approved by the court, typically in the area where your spouse was last known to reside. The publication must meet specific legal requirements, and you may need court approval before proceeding with this method.
  3. Alternative Service Methods: Depending on the jurisdiction, there may be alternative methods of service available if traditional methods fail. These could include service through email, social media, or other electronic means, but they usually require court approval.
  4. Court Proceedings: After attempting to locate your spouse and exhausting alternative service methods, you can proceed with the divorce through the court. The court may grant a default judgment if your spouse fails to respond to the divorce petition within a specified time frame after being properly served through publication or other approved methods.
  5. Divorce Process: Once the court grants a default judgment, the divorce proceedings can move forward. This may involve resolving issues such as property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support, depending on the laws of your jurisdiction.

It’s essential to consult with a family law attorney to understand the specific procedures and requirements for obtaining a divorce when the whereabouts of your spouse are unknown. The laws and procedures must be fully complied with and they can seem complicated. An attorney can provide guidance tailored to your situation so that you get the results you deserve.

About Sandy Durst

Sandy Durst, Esq., is the founding partner of The Durst Firm where he heads the Family Law Department. Individuals facing a divorce benefit from the combination of legal skill, common sense and compassion that Sandy brings to each and every matter. Each case is given the personalized attention it deserves.
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