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Filing for Divorce When Your Spouse Cannot Be Found

Filing for divorce is not only an emotional process but also a very legally intensive one as well. Indeed, in terms of the legal process, ending a marriage is much more complicated than is entering into one.


The process of filing for divorce begins with the filing of a summons at the county clerk’s office. After this is done, the divorce-seeking party must ensure that the summons is handed to the defendant personally, in a process called “serving” or “service.”


But what happens if a spouse cannot be found? How is a divorce-seeking party supposed to serve them with a divorce summons?


Service By Publication


In the event that your spouse cannot be located, your only option for serving your spouse with divorce papers may be served by publication. This is the process of publishing the notice of your divorce action in a local paper after you have made a good faith effort to find your spouse.


Before the courts will allow you to serve your spouse by publication, you must first sign an affidavit swearing that you made a reasonable and diligent effort to locate your spouse. You will also need to submit proof of this effort, so it is important that you document the process.


What Does a Diligent Search Consist of?


In order to prove to the court that you tried your hardest to locate your spouse, you will need to turn to various resources (and submit proof of doing so) such as:


  • The US postal service;
  • The Department of Motor Vehicles;
  • Telephone directories;
  • Your spouse’s family and friends; and
  • The internet.


Once you have exhausted all resources, including others not listed above, you can submit your affidavit.


Your Publication


After you have been granted permission by the court to pursue service by publication, you can begin the process of contacting newspapers to publish your summons. The judge will instruct you regarding the information that the publication must include, as well as for how long it must be published (typically once a week for three weeks). Once your notice has been published, your spouse has 30 days to respond.


Finalizing a Divorce Without Your Spouse


If your spouse does not respond to your petition, a judge will likely finalize your divorce action, and your divorce will be granted without your spouse.


Contact Our Lawyers to Learn More


Divorce by publication can be a complicated process, but it may be the only way to get a divorce if you cannot find your spouse. To learn more, call the Bombardo Law Office, P.C. today for a consultation with an experienced New York family law and divorce attorney.


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