How do you go about obtaining a divorce by publication?

I’m filing my divorce but the problem is I have been unable to locate my ex-spouse and therefore will publish in the newspapers. How do I frame the wording to publish in the local newspapers. After filing the first set of forms, when and how long do I wait to file the second set of forms?

Asked on July 30, 2010 under Family Law, Pennsylvania


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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The concept of "notice" in any legal proceeding is crucial.  In a divorce setting this means that even if a spouse can't be located they still must be notified of the divorce action before it can proceed.  This is accomplished through something known as "divorce by publication".

First of all, you (the filing spouse) must make a diligent effort to find your missing spouse.  You will have to present proof to a court that you checkedwith family/friends, voting records, the phone book, DMV, and any other source that would likely lead to uncovering your spouse's current whereabouts.  Once you have demonstrated that you have done to the the court's satisfaction, it will allow you to you to serve your spouse by publishing notice in a newspaper (as opposed to personally serving a summons; the usual method).  The court will instruct you as to which paper you should use; typically it will be one in the area of your spouse's last known address.  If your spouse fails to answer this notice in approximately 30-60 (it depends on your state law), then they are said to have "defaulted" and the court will grant the divorce, usually on your terms within the following 60-90 (again its dependent on specific state law).



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