How can I get a divorce when my spouse’s location is unknown?

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How can I get a divorce when my spouse’s location is unknown?

I want to get a divorce but I have had no word from him for almost 7 years. There are 2 kids involved. No properties or anything else. He was deported to Honduras but have no idea if he is still there. I don’t know of any family members that might live close to here. He has a very bad criminal record here. I know that he would never be able to get custody. Where do I start? What should I do

Asked on October 31, 2011 under Family Law, Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Before legal action can be taken against a person they must be given an opportunity to appear and explain their side. This is what is called "notice".  When a spouse cannot be located, then there is something known as a "divorce by publication" which is a remedy that allows for a divorce in such a situation. 

The Petitioner (i.e. the filing spouse) must make a good faith search to find the Respondent (i.e. the missing spouse). The Petitioner has to present proof to a court that they made diligent efforts to uncover their spouse's whereabouts. At such point the Petitioner will be allowed to "serve" the Repondent by publishing notice of the divorce in a newspaper.  The judge will then instruct the Petitioner as to which newspaper should be used (usually one that is in the area of the Respondent's last known location). 

The Respondent then will have 30-60 days to file their answer. If they fail to file, the Petitioner can request to enter a "default divorce". Such a divorce is typically granted upon the terms requested (although the Respondent is given a certain period of time in which they can appeal).

At this point you should consult directly with a divorce attorney. They can best advise you as to your rights and how to proceed.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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