How Do I File for Divorce if My Spouse is Missing? 194

Moving Forward with Divorce if Your Spouse is MIA

While many couples file for divorce as soon as they decide the marriage will no longer work, others choose to separate indefinitely or simply abandon the marriage. This can sometimes result in a “missing spouse”, meaning that the husband or wife has no idea how to locate their other half to serve them with divorce papers.  Courts require some sort of service or legal notification to the non-filing spouse that a divorce action has been filed, giving that person an opportunity to be heard in court.

In this instance, notice to your spouse can often be satisfied through “Service By Publication”. To get the court to accept this form of service, you’ll have to prove that you have made a diligent effort to locate your spouse and by “diligent”, we mean more than just a few phone calls.

Once you’ve exhausted all of your efforts and received approval of the court, you can publish an ad in a local newspaper notifying your missing spouse of the divorce proceedings in process. Notice that the ad is run after the divorce is filed and the choice of which newspaper is typically left up to you, although you may want to verify this with the court clerk as there may be a recommended paper typically used by the court or a requirement as to the size of the paper’s circulation for such matters.

Assuming your missing spouse does not respond within a given timeframe, your divorce would then be granted as a default judgment.  The court would grant you a divorce and decide all of the terms of the divorce in the manner which you have requested.

Depending upon your circumstances, a “missing spouse divorce” can often be obtained without hiring an attorney by using a do-it-yourself divorce form.


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