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How do you divorce a spouse you can’t find?

by | Aug 31, 2021 | Family Law

As we’ve discussed previously, your spouse can’t stop you from getting a divorce — no matter how averse they are to the idea. You do, however, still have to go through the proper steps in the divorce process, and that means first making sure that your spouse is served with your petition.

What happens, then, if you can’t locate your spouse to serve them?

When your spouse disappears, service by publication or posting is possible

Sometimes a spouse vanishes for unknown reasons, while others simply don’t want to be found. Either way, California has long known how to manage this kind of problem. You essentially have two options for notifying a missing spouse of your divorce filing:

  1. Service by publication: This is the most common option. For a fee, you can publish your divorce petition and any other important papers, like a summons, in a newspaper in general circulation around your spouse’s last known residence (or wherever you believe they may be). Publication has to continue for at least one day a week for four weeks in a row.
  2. Service by posting: If you qualify financially for the court fees to be waived, you may be permitted to publish the divorce petition by posting it on a board designated for such notices at the local courthouse.

Keep in mind that you can’t resort to either of these methods without first trying to locate and serve your spouse with your divorce petition through more direct means. This means keeping track of your attempts to locate them at their last known residence, through their employer, through friends and relatives and via social media.

Divorce can be complicated under the best of circumstances, but there are many different paths forward.