What can I do if my husband filed for divorce by publication yet knows where I am?

My husband lives in one stae and I live in another I just moved to my current state from a third state. However, he knows where I am and has my contact phone number; I can prove this. He has filed for me to be served by publication in a paper in my former state of residence (he has never lived there). I have a 2 year old that is with me full-time. I don’t know what to do or where to file.

Asked on May 29, 2012 under Family Law, Missouri

Answers:

Michael Gainer / Michael J. Gainer, Attorney At Law

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I am only licensed to practice in Washington State, but I can provide some general information that may help you.  You should consider either filing in the state you are in now and having him served first, unless you have not been in your current state long enough, or responding to his action where he filed and moving forward with the action there.  I'd recommend talking to an attorney in the city/state wher he filed the divorce and responding there.  Many attorneys work with clients who reside in other states, and work through e-mail, phone and fax.  You may not have to ever go to the state.  

If you don't respond to his action, the court may enter orders, including a final divorce and Parenting Plan without your input.  You could come in later and try to get the court to vacate the orders because he knew where you were and shouldn't have been able to serve you by publication, but the first question you may be asked is whether you knew about the lawsuit and choose not to respond.  Even if you are successful in vacating the orders, you are back to where you are now.  Better to be proactive, file a Response and have a voice in the action than wait.  He will get what he asks for if you don't respond.  


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