How canI get a divorce ifI don’t know where my husband is and have not seen him in years?

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How canI get a divorce ifI don’t know where my husband is and have not seen him in years?

I have not seen my husband in 6 years. We have a 7 year old daughter who he has not seen or helped raise. I don’t want child support, I just want my divorce so I can move on with my life.

Asked on December 19, 2011 under Family Law, Georgia

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

First off, you can't take legal action against someone with first giving them notice first. Even in the case of a missing spouse, that spouse must still be informed of the divorce action before it can proceed. So the law provides a legal remedy. It is called "divorce by publication". In such a case, the filing spouse (i.e. the "petitioner") must make a good faith effort to find the missing spouse (i.e. the "respondent"). The petitioner has to present proof to a court that they made a diligent search to find their spouse. At that time the petitioner will be allowed to serve the repondent by publishing notice of the divorce in a newspaper as opposed to personally serving them (typically it will be in one in the area of their last known location). 

The respondent will then need to file an answer after the first date of publication (typically 30-60 days). If they fail to file, the petitioner can request to enter what is called a "default divorce". Generally, it is granted upon the terms requested by the petitioner (although the respondent is given a certain time to appeal).


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