How to Divorce Someone You Haven’t Seen in Years: A Guide

Divorce is never easy, but it can be even more complicated if you have lost contact with your spouse. Maybe they moved to another country, changed their name, or simply disappeared without a trace.

Whatever the reason, you may wonder if you can still get a divorce without knowing their whereabouts.

The answer is yes, you can.

However, you will need to follow some extra steps and meet some legal requirements before you can end your marriage.

In this article, we will explain how to divorce someone you haven’t seen in years and answer some frequently asked questions about the process.

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How to Divorce Someone You Haven’t Seen in Years: A Guide

Step 1: Try to Locate Your Spouse

The first thing you need to do is to make a good-faith effort to find your spouse.

This means that you have to use all reasonable means available to you to try to locate them.

For example, you can:

1.Contact their family, friends, co-workers, or anyone else who might know their current address or phone number.

2.Check the electoral register, public records, social media, or online databases for any clues about their location.

3.Hire a private investigator or a tracing service to track them down.

You should keep a record of all the attempts you have made to find your spouse, as you will need to show this to the court later.

If you manage to locate your spouse, you can proceed with the divorce as usual by serving them with the divorce papers.

Step 2: Apply for a Divorce by Publication

If you cannot find your spouse after exhausting all reasonable means, you can apply for a divorce by publication.

This is a special type of divorce that allows you to notify your spouse of the divorce proceedings by publishing a notice in a newspaper or a public place.

To apply for a divorce by publication, you will need to:

1.Fill out the divorce forms as normal, but indicate that you do not know your spouse’s address or that they are avoiding service.

2.File the divorce forms with the court and pay the filing fee.

3.Ask the court for permission to serve your spouse by publication.

You will need to submit a sworn statement (called an affidavit) explaining why you cannot find your spouse and what efforts you have made to do so.

You may also need to provide some evidence, such as copies of emails, letters, or receipts from tracing services.

4.If the court grants your request, you will need to publish the notice of the divorce in a newspaper or a public place that is likely to reach your spouse.

The notice must include your name, your spouse’s name, the case number, the court name, and a statement that your spouse has 30 days to respond to the divorce petition.

You will need to publish the notice once a week for four consecutive weeks.

5.After the publication period is over, you will need to file a proof of publication with the court.

This is a document that shows that you have complied with the publication requirements. You can get this from the newspaper or the public place where you published the notice.

Step 3: Wait for Your Spouse’s Response

Once you have served your spouse by publication, you will need to wait for their response.

If your spouse does not respond within 30 days, you can ask the court for a default judgment.

This means that the court will grant you a divorce based on the terms you requested in your divorce petition.

However, if your spouse does respond, they can contest the divorce or ask for different terms.

In that case, you will need to go through the normal divorce process, which may involve mediation, negotiation, or a trial.

You may also need to hire a lawyer to represent you in court.

How long does a divorce by publication take?

The exact time frame for a divorce by publication depends on several factors, such as the court’s schedule, the publication requirements, and your spouse’s response.

image of divorcing couple
How to Divorce Someone You Haven’t Seen in Years: A Guide

However, in general, you can expect a divorce by publication to take at least three to six months from start to finish.

 How much does a divorce by publication cost?

The cost of a divorce by publication varies depending on the state, the county, the court, and the newspaper or public place where you publish the notice.

However, you can expect to pay at least $300 to $500 for the filing fee, the publication fee, and any other fees required by the court.

You may also need to pay for a private investigator or a tracing service, which can cost anywhere from $50 to $500 or more.

What are the risks of a divorce by publication?

A divorce by publication has some limitations and risks that you should be aware of before you pursue it.

For example:

1.A divorce by publication may not be recognized by some foreign countries or states, especially if they have different laws or requirements for divorce.

2.A divorce by publication may not allow you to resolve some issues, such as child custody, child support, alimony, or property division.

You may need to file a separate lawsuit or wait until you find your spouse to address these matters.

3.A divorce by publication may be challenged or overturned by your spouse if they later claim that they did not receive proper notice of the divorce or that they were not given a fair opportunity to participate in the process.

Therefore, you should consult with a lawyer before you decide to apply for a divorce by publication.

A lawyer can advise you on the best course of action for your situation and help you protect your rights and interests.

How can I avoid a divorce by publication?

The best way to avoid a divorce by publication is to maintain contact with your spouse or to find them as soon as possible.

If you know where your spouse is, you can serve them with the divorce papers in person or by mail.

This will save you time, money, and hassle, and allow you to have more control over the outcome of your divorce.

However, if you cannot find your spouse or they are avoiding service, you may have no choice but to apply for a divorce by publication.

In that case, you should follow the steps and requirements outlined above and seek legal help if necessary.

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