If I have not seen my husband in 32 years, what forms do I need to do divorce him?

Asked on March 19, 2011 under Family Law, California


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you are having difficulty serving your spouse with divorce papers because you do not know where he lives, you may have to request permission from the court to "serve by publication."  What this means is that you will have to place a legal notice in a newspaper that is published in the area where your husband was last known to live.  The notice must run once a week for 4 weeks.  At the end of that time, your husband will be considered to have been "served."  However before the court will give its permission to serve your husband in this way you will have to prove that you made a good faith effort to find him.  Such efforts should include contacting his former employers (or present if known) sending a letter to his last known address, speaking to friends and relatives, and performing an on-line search.  If your spouse does not respond to the published notice, you can ask the court to grant a divorce "by default."  This means that because your husband has not shown up in court to contest the divorce, the court will award you the divorce that you asked for.

Specifically, what you need to do is to file an “Ex Parte Application for Publication of Summons”.  This document asks the court to allow you to serve your spouse by publishing the Summons in the newspaper since he can’t be located.  The court must approve the Ex Parte Application for Publication of Summons, Declaration in Support Thereof, Memorandum of Points and Authorities and Order for Publication of Summons.  Once all of these documents have been approved, you will be allowed to serve your husband via publication.  At that point you publish the Summons in the newspaper. After the 4 required weeks have expired, file a “Request to Enter Default Dissolution of Marriage” with the court.  The judge will issue a “Default Judgment” for divorce. You won’t even have to attend court for this.  Your divorce will become final 6 months after you first published notice to your husband.

Since this can all get a little complicated, you should consult directly with a divorce attorney in your area.

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