If I don’t have my spouse’s information do I need a lawyer?

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If I don’t have my spouse’s information do I need a lawyer?

We were married 16 years ago and separated shortly after. I haven’t seen her since. I tried to fill out dissolution of marriage forms but the only thing I know is her name and her dad’s address. If I don’t even have enough information to fill out the forms, do I need a lawyer? We have no children together (although I believe she has a few), no assets, no joint anything. There has literally no contact in 15 years.

Asked on February 5, 2019 under Family Law, Missouri

Answers:

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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

In a case such as this, before legal action can be taken against a spouse 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".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 which one; it is usually one that is in the area of the Respondent's last known location). The Respondent will have about 30-60 days to file their answer (depending on state law0. 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. While you can file yourself for such a divorce, you may want to consult directly with a local divorce attorney who can best advise you further.

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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

In a case such as this, before legal action can be taken against a spouse 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". 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 which one; it is usually one that is in the area of the Respondent's last known location). The Respondent will have about 30-60 days to file their answer (depending on state law0. 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. While you can file yourself for such a divorce, you may want to consult directly with a local divorce attorney who can best advise you further.


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