What can I do to serve divorce papers to my wife if she does not want to be found?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What can I do to serve divorce papers to my wife if she does not want to be found?

I want to serve my wife divorce papers, her family knows where she is and they refuse to tell me. What can I do?

Asked on September 30, 2011 under Family Law, Washington

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There is something known as "divorce by publication" which a legal remedythat would apply is a situation such as this. One of the basic tenents of the judicial system is the concept of notice. Basically this means that legal action is not taken against a person without giving them an opportunity to appear and explain their side. In a situation of a divorce in which there is an absent spouse, that spouse must still be informed of the divorce action before it can proceed. 

So, the filing spouse (i.e. petitioner) must make a good faith effort to find their missing spouse (i.e. respondent).  They have to present proof to a court that they made a diligent search to find them. Typically they will have to show that they checked with family/friends, voting records, the DMV, and any other source that would likely lead to uncovering their spouse's whereabouts. 

Then and only then will the petitioner will be allowed to serve the repondent by publishing notice of the divorce in a newspaper (instead of personal service).  The court will instruct as to which newspaper should be used. Typically it will be in one that is in the area of their last known location. 

The respondent has 30-60 days to file an answer after the first day of publication. If they fail to do so, the petitioner can then file a request to enter a default divorce. As a general rule, it is granted upon the terms requested by the petitioner (although the respondent is given a certain timeframe in which they can appeal the terms of the divorce).


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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption