What If I Cannot Locate My Spouse?
When you begin the process of filing for a divorce, you usually know where your spouse lives, especially if you have children with your spouse or you have financial agreements in place. However, there are instances where you are unable to locate your spouse so that the divorce documents can be served. There are a few options that you have available so that the divorce can be carried through without any delays.
There are usually two types of a divorce to consider. One is a no-fault divorce while the other one is an at-fault. Keep in mind that the documents, requirements, and the overall process can vary from one state to another, but for the most part, the basic concepts are the same for each one in almost every state. If you’re unable to locate your spouse, then you might be able to file a divorce by publication where the name of your spouse is published in a local newspaper for a certain length of time to allow your spouse to know that you plan on filing for divorce. One of the regulations that you need to keep in mind pertaining to a divorce no matter where you live is that you have to remain separated from your spouse for at least a year before the divorce can be granted. If you’re unable to locate your spouse, then this will usually be in your favor when showing that you’ve been separated for one year. When you perform a divorce by publication, then you would need to show that you have been unable to locate your spouse after all efforts have failed.
After speaking with your attorney, the divorce documents will be served to your spouse’s last known address. If the address is known, then the documents can be taken by a sheriff’s deputy, mailed, or delivered by a courier. In most situations, the documents will be delivered to the last address that is on file or the last one that you know as a starting point. There will usually be a few attempts made to serve the documents at this address. If the documents can’t be served at this address, then your attorney can petition for an Order of Notice by Publication that would result in your spouse’s name being printed in a local newspaper. The name will usually appear in a newspaper in the same area where your spouse last lived so that there is a better chance of your spouse seeing the name. Your spouse usually has about three weeks to make some kind of response to the ad that was placed.
If your spouse doesn’t respond within a reasonable amount of time as dictated by the state, then you can work with your attorney to complete the divorce. This will be done by default as your spouse has made no objection to the proceedings. In the event that your spouse is not located, then a judge will usually grant your divorce without hesitation and as long as there the judge understands that your spouse had ample time and notification of the proceedings. If you are unsure of where your spouse is located, then placing a notice in a newspaper is usually the best option for everyone involved. Your divorce proceedings may sometimes work in your favor if you are unable to locate your spouse whereas you might have to fight for your belongings and finances if your spouse decides to object to the divorce.
There are some states that require you to file an Affidavit of Military Service in the event that your spouse could have enlisted in the military. This would mean that your spouse could have a longer time to respond to the notification since it would be difficult to communicate while in the military.
When your divorce is finalized, there are orders that the judge can enter without the presence of your spouse. One is child custody and visitation. The judge will take into consideration who the child has lived with and who the child wants to live with instead of who responds to notifications. The judge will also look at the best interests of the child regarding visitation, custody, and support. Property division and division of assets can also be determined during a divorce proceeding even if your spouse isn’t present. The best option that you have would be to contact an attorney who specializes in divorce proceedings and locating spouses.