If I’m married but have not seen my wife in over 4 years and don’t even know where she is living, how do I go about getting a divorce?

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If I’m married but have not seen my wife in over 4 years and don’t even know where she is living, how do I go about getting a divorce?

Also, does it need to be published in the local paper if I do get divorced?

Asked on November 29, 2012 under Family Law, Nebraska

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In such a situation as yours there is a legal remedy called "divorce by publication". The fact is that before legal action can be taken against a person they must be given an opportunity to appear and explain their side. This is called "notice". A divorce by publication allows a spouse to be served notice of the divorce action.

The the filing spouse (i.e. "petitioner") must make a dilegent search to find their missing spouse (also known as the "respondent"). They have to demonstrate to a court that they made all reasonable and diligent (i.e. "good faith") efforts to uncover their missing spouse's whereabouts. At that point, the petitioner will be allowed to serve the respondent by publishing notice of the divorce in a newspaper instead of the typical method of personal service (the court will then instruct the petitioner as to which newspaper should be used; normally one in the area of the respndent's last known address).

The respondent will then have 30-60 days to file an "answer". If they fail to so respond, the petitioner can file a request to enter a what is termed a "default divorce". As a general rule, such a divorce is granted upon the terms requested by the petitioner (however the respondent is given a certain period time in which they can appeal).

At this point, you should consult directly with a divorce attorney in your area, who can best advise you of your rights/responsibilities.


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