How hard is it to divorce someone who disappeared 7 years ago ?

I got married in California and my wife
disappeared and claimed she was deported on
herion charges. How complicated would getting
a divorce be?

Asked on March 17, 2017 under Family Law, Alabama


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

There is something known as "divorce by publication", which is used in the very circumstance that you have described here. In any legal proceeding action cannot be taken against someone without giving them "notice" of the proceedings in order to give them the chance to appear and explain their side. And in a divorce action, even if a spouse can't be located they still must be notified of the action before it can proceed. Divorce by publication typically works as follows: the "petitioner" (i.e. the filing spouse) must make a good faith effort to find their missing spouse, the "respondent" (i.e. the non-filing spouse). The petitioner will have to present proof to the court that they made a genuine and diligent effort to locate their spouse. Once they have done so, they will be allowed to serve theirr spouse by publishing notice notice of the divorce in a newspaper (as opposed to personally serving them). The court will instruct as to which paper should be used. As a general rule, the respondent has 30-60 days to file their reply. If they fail to do so within the time specified, the petitioner files a request to enter a "divorce by default" (although the respondent is given a certain time limit in which they can appeal). In your case, since your wife is living out of the country, the notice requirements will be somewhat more complicated. Accordingly, your best course of action is to hire an attorney who has experience in this type of divorce.

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