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Divorce When Spouse Can’t Be Located

Surprisingly, a common hurdle when one spouse files a divorce complaint is locating the other spouse. Sometimes, this is simply because the parties have waited a long time to file a divorce action and they are no longer in contact with the other parent. Other times, a spouse simply refuses to share his or her address. Still other instances involve true “disappearances,” when one spouse suddenly vanishes without leaving any means of contact. Whatever the reason, it is generally still possible to file and finalize a divorce.

When a party files a divorce complaint, the Court expects that they will be “diligent” in attempting to find the other party to serve them with the divorce complaint. That means it’s important to make a real attempt to locate the absent spouse, even if it ultimately proves to be impossible. Common search tools include checking with the post office for a forwarding address, talking to friends or family of the missing spouse, reviewing social media, conducting background checks, reviewing public records, subpoenaing government agencies, and even hiring a private investigator. If the missing spouse is located in this manner, then they can be served and the divorce proceedings can proceed in the usual manner.

If it’s truly impossible to locate a spouse, the party filing for divorce may motion the Court to allow for service by publication. If the Court is convinced that the party has made a diligent search and has been unsuccessful, the Court may allow the party to serve their spouse by publishing a notice in a newspaper or other publication(s).

If you are interested in learning more, please contact Tanner Law Offices, LLC, at 717-836-0471 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.