What to do if I need to get a divorce but do not know where my husband is?

UPDATED: Dec 15, 2011

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What to do if I need to get a divorce but do not know where my husband is?

I have been separated for the past 2 1/2 years from my current husband.

Asked on December 15, 2011 under Family Law, California


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First of all, you can't take legal action against someone with first giving them notice of the action and an opportunity to appear and explain their side of things. And even in the case of a missing spouse, that spouse must still be informed of the divorce action before it can proceed. 

So the law provides a legal remedy known as a "divorce by publication". In such a case, the filing spouse (i.e. petitioner) must make a diligent effort to find the absent spouse (i.e. respondent). The petitioner has to present proof to a court that they made a good faith search to find their spouse. At that time the petitioner will be allowed to serve the repondent by publishing notice of the divorce in a newspaper as opposed to personally serving them (typically it will be in one in the area of their last known address). 

The respondent will need to file an answer after the first date of publication (usually 30-60 days). If they fail to do so, the petitioner can request to enter a "default divorce". As a genral rule, it is granted upon the terms requested by the petitioner (although the respondent is given a certain time in which they can appeal).

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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