I want to divorce my wife, but she’s hard to find.

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I want to divorce my wife, but she’s hard to find.

My wife and I been separated for 16 years but she’s hard to find. She’s always in
and out of jail. How can I serve a person that I can’t find? Is there a way to
get around that. She has a bad criminal record, and multiple children outside of
our marriage. CPS claim she an in fit mother, as a result she not any of her
children. What can I do?.
Thank you,
Kevin Powell

Asked on April 12, 2017 under Family Law, Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There is something known as "service by publication", which is used in your very situation. In any legal proceeding, action cannot be taken against someone without first giving them notice of the proceedings, so that they have the chance to appear and explain their side. This applies when filing for a divorce; even if a spouse can't be located they still must be notified of the action before it can proceed. Service by publication generally works as follows: the filing spouse (i.e the "petitioner") must make a good faith effort to find their missing spouse (i.e. the "respondent"). The petitioner will have to present proof to the court that they made a diligent effort to locate the respondent. Once they have done so, they will be allowed to serve that spouse by publishing notice notice of the divorce in a newspaper (as opposed to personally serving them which is the usual method). The court will instruct as to which paper should be used. As a general rule, the respondent has 30-60 days to file their reply. If they fail to do so within the specified time, the petitioner then can file a request to enter a "divorce by default" (however the respondent is given a certain time limit in which they can file an appeal). At this point, you may want to consult directly with a local divorce attorney.


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