How canI divorce a husband thatI cannot find?

UPDATED: Apr 19, 2011

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Apr 19, 2011Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

How canI divorce a husband thatI cannot find?

My husband left me about 8 1/2 years ago and I cant find him anywhere. I want to get re-married. Everyone tells me that I’m already divorced because its been so long. Is that true? I have no income at all and can’t afford a lawyer.

Asked on April 19, 2011 under Family Law, Tennessee


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You are still married no matter how long its been since you last saw your husband.  What "everyone" is thinking of here is that a person can be declared legally dead if there is reason to believe that they have in fact perished and they have been missing for the required number of years.  However, you do not indicate this to be the case here. Additionally, there are many technical formalities that must be complied with in such a situation. Rather, when one spouse leaves the other spouse, the typical remedy is divorce.  This is true even if the missing spouse's whereabouts are unknown.

You can obtain what is called a "divorce by default".  As the "petitioner-spouse, you will file the appropriate papers with the court.  Your husband will need to be served.  Since you can't locate him (and you must have tried in good faith to have done so), notice of the divorce complaint can be served via something known as "notice by publication".  This is a method of service used when a "respondent-spouse" (your husband) cannot be located by the "petitioner-spouse" (you) in a divorce proceeding. 

It works this way:  The respondent is notified of the divorce proceedings by publishing notice in a local paper in the area of their last known address.  Then, after a specified period of time (usually 30 days or so), if your spouse does not answer that constitutes a "default".  Accordingly you will then file your final paperwork in the state and county where you reside, and then appear before the judge (typically in 60 days).  As a general rule, a divorce is then granted on the terms that you request.

Since you have no money contact Legal Aid or see if there is law school nearby to where you live (they usually run fee/low cost legal clinics).  You can also try the county bar association for a list of attorneys that may help you  "pro bono" (for free).

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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption