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Divorce by Publication



How to Divorce a Spouse You Can't Locate

There is a solution when you are unable to serve divorce papers on a spouse. Divorce by publication is a method for dissolution of marriage permitted by courts when one spouse is unable to locate the other spouse. Generally, for granting dissolution of marriage through divorce by publication, courts require the spouses to have been living separately for a certain minimum amount of time.

Divorce by publication procedures are governed by state statutes and local court rules. State statutes on divorce procedure vary by state. Thus, the actual procedure and validity of a divorce by publication will be governed by the laws of the state where the divorce action is filed.

Although each state has different laws regarding the legality and conclusion of a divorce by publication, typical steps to carry out a divorce by publication begin by filing a divorce petition, as would be required in any other type of divorce.

The courts permit service by publication when the missing partner is living at an unknown address and cannot be located after a thorough search. State statutes provide that the missing spouse should be served with legal notices of the divorce by publishing a notification in a newspaper of record in the place where the legal process is taking place. The person filing the divorce petition should wait for a certain time period after the divorce publication in the newspaper. After the newspaper publication runs for a certain period of time and the other spouse fails to respond during that specified period, the judge orders a divorce by default judgment. Prior to permitting service of process by publication, the court requires the petitioner to first try to find the missing spouse and provide them with the divorce documents, along with a copy of the divorce publication, at their last known address, even though it is outside the state or nation.

After the completion of the required period of time, the petitioner for the divorce should provide the court with the divorce documents, proof of paper publication, and any other evidence, to obtain a final divorce decree. If all the essential steps are properly followed, then the divorce will be granted and the judge will rule in favor of the applicant. Since divorce by publication is a type of uncontested divorce, the requests made by the petitioning spouse will be granted without objections by the absentee spouse.

Easily downloadable state-specific forms on divorce by publication are available on the US Legal Forms website. Our divorce guide provides you with information on how to file for divorce by publication and also explains the procedure of getting a divorce.


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