If my wife walked out about 10 months ago and I don’t know where she is living, can I still get divorced?

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If my wife walked out about 10 months ago and I don’t know where she is living, can I still get divorced?

Asked on January 4, 2016 under Family Law, Arizona

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

In a legal action, all parties must be given notice of the proceedings. In a case such as yours, you can "serve" a divorce complaint by what is know as "notice by publication".  This is used when a respondent-spouse cannot be located by the petitioner-spouse (as oppossed to the usual personal service).
In most jurisdictions, in order to obtain a divorce by publication, you will need to perform a search for your absent spouse in the same general location in which she was last known to reside. If your search fails to locate her, you can then ask to the court to issue an order of publication.  If the order is granted, a legal notice is sent to the newspaper named in the order for publication (the judge will make this decision). The notice must be published typically within 30-60 days after being issued and must be published once a week for the next several consecutive weeks.
If there is no response from your wife within the allowed time period, you can obtain what is known as a divorce "by default". In most states it takes 3-6 months before your divorce is final.
For further information, you should consult directly with an attorney in your area. They can best advise as to specific state law.


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