What If I Can't Find My Spouse During Divorce Proceedings?January 6, 2023
Deciding to file for divorce is hard enough. But what if you have finally made up your mind to divorce your spouse and cannot find them? Traditionally, you must initiate your divorce by having your lawyer serve your spouse with the divorce papers at their last known location. However, if after you have taken all reasonable measures to locate your spouse to no avail, you can request the court for a divorce by publication.
How Divorce by Publication Works
If you can’t locate your spouse and serve the divorce papers, you can request the court to allow you to serve the papers by publication or by posting. With service by publication, you must publish your notice of the divorce in a popular newspaper where your spouse will most likely see it. Your notice must be published for four consecutive weeks, at least once weekly.
With service by posting, a court clerk or your process server must post the notice of the divorce in a visible place at the courthouse. To support your request to send a divorce notice by posting or publication, you are legally required to show proof that you attempted to locate your spouse and did everything you could possibly do to do so.
You Must Take Reasonable Steps to Locate Your Spouse
Here are some things to consider when trying to find your spouse:
- Go to the last known address of your spouse.
- Document everything that happened when you last saw your spouse.
- Reach out to any of your spouse’s friends and family members.
- Call or go to your spouse’s last known employer or office.
- Send the divorce paperwork to your spouse’s address by regular mail and certified mail. When they cannot be delivered and sent back to you, make sure to keep them as proof that you sent the paperwork.
- Look for your spouse in local hospitals, homeless shelters, and food pantries.
- Search the state and local criminal and court records and prisons.
- Look at the service members’ military database to check if your spouse has enlisted.
- Check the websites of the Social Security Death Index to check if the social security number of your spouse is listed.
It is crucial to note that there may be other things you can do to find your spouse. Regardless of the steps you take, make sure to document all your efforts and keep clear records of everything you did to find your spouse.
If the court has approved your service by posting or publication and your spouse still can’t be located, you can request the court for a divorce by default. Essentially, you will be requesting the court to make decisions about child custody and support, property division, alimony, and other divorce issues.
Reach Out to a Skilled Ventura Divorce Attorney Today
If you’re considering filing for divorce and you can’t find your spouse, contact the Ventura divorce attorney at Bamieh & De Smeth right away. You can set up your free case consultation by sending us an online message or calling 805-643-5555.