Not all marriages are a happy bliss, fairytale life. You can feel stuck in your marriage. Or you may not be sure if you can move forward with a divorce, especially if you have lost all contact with your spouse. You may not even be able to find your spouse. Your spouse may not have provided you their new address. Or, they may simply be dodging you in order to avoid getting served.
If you can’t find your spouse, does it mean you are out of luck and stuck in your marriage forever? Can you still file for divorce if you can’t find your spouse or have no idea how to reach them? The answer is YES.
How to Get a Divorce Without Your Spouse
The traditional method of starting a divorce is for your Central Valley divorce attorney to serve your spouse with the initial papers. However, if you are unsuccessful in finding your spouse after a diligent search, you can ask the court for an Order of Notice by Publication. This means that you must publish a notice of your intent to divorce your spouse in a newspaper near the area of his or her last known whereabouts. This “legal advertisement” is run for about three weeks.
If your spouse fails to respond to the notice, you and your divorce lawyer may proceed to finalizing your divorce by default. This method may not be ideal or may take longer than you’d prefer, but it’s an effective method to legally getting out of a marriage if your spouse has gone M.I.A.
What Constitutes “Diligent Search” In Finding Your Spouse?
In order to file for Notice for Publication, you are required to establish for the court that you used reasonable efforts to locate your spouse. Some of the things you can do to prove to the court you made a “diligent search” in locating your spouse include:
- Document the last time you saw your spouse and where.
- Check your spouse’s last address in person.
- Send your divorce papers by certified mail to your spouse’s last known address. Also send the papers by regular mail. When they are proven to be undeliverable and returned to you, keep the envelopes and mail as documented proof.
- Contact any of your spouse’s relatives.
- Contact your spouse’s last know place of employment.
- Search local and state court and criminal records, jails, and the Federal Bureau of Prison’s website.
- Search local hospitals, food pantries, and homeless shelters.
- Search any number of Social Security Death Index websites to see if your spouse’s social security number is listed.
- Search the military database of service members to see if your spouse is enlisted.
Call an Experienced Central Valley Divorce Attorney
If you are in the process of getting a divorce or plan on initiating one, it is important that you have a knowledgeable attorney fighting for your rights. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Central Valley divorce attorney, please call Gurjit Srai (209) 323-5558 or complete our online form.