How do I get a divorce if I’m unable to locate my ex?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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How do I get a divorce if I’m unable to locate my ex?

My ex left over 5 months ago. No contact with her in 3 months. We have no shared property or child custody. I know the city that she moved to but have no idea exactly where. I need to know where I go from here.

Asked on June 28, 2018 under Family Law, Florida


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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Under the circumstances, there si a legal remdey known as "service by publication". In a legal proceeding, action cannot be taken against a person without first giving them notice which gives them the chance to appear and explain their side. Accordingly, even if a spouse cannot be located, they still must be notified in some way of the action before it can proceed forward. This is accomplished via something known as "service by publication". The "Petitioner" (i.e. the filing spouse) must make a good faith effort to find the "respondent" (the non-filing spouse). The petitioner will need to present proof to the court that they made a diligent search to locate the respondent. Once they have done so, they will be allowed to serve the absent spouse by publishing notice of the divorce in a newspaper (as opposed to personal service). The court will instruct as to which paper should be used. Generally, the respondent has about 30-60 days to file their reply. If they fail to do so within the time specified, then the petitioner can file a request to enter a "divorce by default". At this point, you may want to consult directly with a divorce attorney in your area as they can best advise you further.

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 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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