How can I get a divorce if I don’t know where my husband lives and he has stated in the past his refusal to sign?

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How can I get a divorce if I don’t know where my husband lives and he has stated in the past his refusal to sign?

We married in Virginia 02-10-1998 and have been separated since 01-28-1999. We had no children together or assets of any kind. I talk to him every few years on the phone and he has stated he is ‘Not ready for a divorce and will not sign papers.’ I know he lives somewhere in California but that is all the information I have. Now, 18 years later I would like to remarry and relocate from VA to NC but have this issue.

Asked on August 15, 2017 under Family Law, Virginia

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

In a situation such as yours there is a remedy - "service by publication". In a legal proceeding, action against cannot be taken against someone without giving them notice. This is because they must be given the chance to appear and explain their side of things. In the case of a divorce, even if a spouse can't be located they still must be notified before any legal action can move forward. With service by publication, the filing spouse (i.e the "petitioner") makes a good faith effort to locate their missing spouse (i.e. the "respondent"). The petitioner must present proof to the court that a genuine effort was made to find their spouse. Once this has been done, they'll be permitted by the court to serve that spouse by publishing notice of the divorce in a newspaper in the locality of the spouse's last known whereabouts (instead of the typical method of personal service). Generally speaking, the respondent has 30-60 days to file a reply. If they fail to do so, then the petitioner can file a request to enter a "divorce by default"; their missing spouse's signature is not required. At this point, you should consult directly with a local divorce lawyer for further advice.

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

In a situation such as yours there is a remedy - "service by publication". In a legal proceeding, action against cannot be taken against someone without giving them notice. This is because they must be given the chance to appear and explain their side of things. In the case of a divorce, even if a spouse can't be located they still must be notified before any legal action can move forward. With service by publication, the filing spouse (i.e the "petitioner") makes a good faith effort to locate their missing spouse (i.e. the "respondent"). The petitioner must present proof to the court that a genuine effort was made to find their spouse. Once this has been done, they'll be permitted by the court to serve that spouse by publishing notice of the divorce in a newspaper in the locality of the spouse's last known whereabouts (instead of the typical method of personal service). Generally speaking, the respondent has 30-60 days to file a reply. If they fail to do so, then the petitioner can file a request to enter a "divorce by default"; their missing spouse's signature is not required. At this point, you should consult directly with a local divorce lawyer for further advice.


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