What do you do when you want to get divorced, but you can't find your spouse? You can't get divorced without giving your spouse notice (so that your spouse has the opportunity to respond to any property issues or other concerns). This can present quite a problem if your spouse has vanished, refuses to give you an address, or is just purposefully trying to avoid the paperwork.
A combination of traditional and high-tech methods can help resolve the problem:
Understand The Provisions In Your State
While the laws vary by state, all states have some way of handling the process of serving someone with divorce papers - even if you can't put the notice directly in that person's hands. Make sure that you understand the provisions in your specific state before you start.
You have to show that you've exercised "due diligence." In other words, you have to prove to the court's satisfaction that you've made a reasonable effort to find your spouse and notify him or her that you want a divorce.
Try Old And New Methods Alike To Locate Your Absent Spouse
There are numerous ways that you can exercise due diligence. Some methods have been around for a long time while some have developed along with changes in current technology. Depending on the laws of your state, here's what you can try:
It's only in an extremely recent ruling in New York that actually serving a spouse with divorce papers via social media has been permitted, but other states are likely to follow.
Document Every Step You Take
Documentation is key to proving due diligence when you want to convince the court that you're doing your best to locate your missing spouse. Make sure that you keep receipts for fees paid to the sheriff's office or newspapers, ask for return receipts when you send certified mail, and take screen shots of searches that you've made on social media pages. Keep a log of every friend, relative, or employer that you speak with about your spouse.
If you suspect that your spouse is going to play "hard to find" when you go to file for divorce, talk to your divorce attorney about the problem so that you can get started early. Many states require multiple attempts to locate a missing spouse with a significant waiting period between each attempt, so starting early can get you through the divorce process faster.
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