Getting Divorced From an Absent or Missing Spouse
This premise might sound ridiculous at first glance, but not being able to locate a spouse while trying to get a divorce is a fairly common occurrence. Sometimes people are separated for a long time before one decides to formally terminate the marriage. Other times a spouse chooses to estrange him/herself and does not wish to be found.
This can be a problem because traditional divorce proceedings require the consent and acknowledgement of both parties. Usually, one person files for divorce while the other person is the recipient of the petition and summons, as well as a Notice and Acknowledgement of Receipt.
Putting Forth “Due Diligence” in Locating a Missing Spouse
In cases that involve an absent or missing spouse, the California family courts prefer to have his/her input before terminating a marriage. They expect the petitioner to do his/her “due diligence” in locating the missing spouse before allowing you to move forward. This can involve attempting to contact them at their last known address, reaching out to known family members in an attempt to locate him/her, sweeping through social media and conducting an online search, and more.
Once you’ve established to the courts that you’ve put forth your due diligence, you can petition that they allow you to serve the absent spouse via a publication or a posting.
Serving a Missing Spouse by Publication or Posting
Once all avenues have been exhausted, you can serve a missing spouse via a publication such as an advertisement on a newspaper. This must be done in an area where your spouse is likely to reside or was last known to be in, and there are guidelines as to how long the publication needs to run.
The other option involves service by posting, which is where the divorce summons is posted on the courthouse where the divorce itself was filed. The summons will need to remain posted and public for a specific length of time, usually several weeks.
Want to Learn More?
Getting divorced from an absent or missing spouse, or dealing with any other issue relating to family law in California for that matter, is a complicated affair. If you want to speak with a skilled family law attorney, know that you can count on the White Oak Law. Call us today to schedule a initial consultation.