How Do I Get a Divorce When I Can’t Find My Spouse?

If you are married but don’t know where your spouse is we can still help you get divorced.

New York law requires that we serve your spouse the divorce documents so that he or she will have an opportunity to respond.

Although, obviously if you can’t find your spouse then serving them the documents is not possible.

In New York, if you can’t find your spouse to serve them the divorce paperwork, you need to do a Publication Divorce. A Publication Divorce is the only way to divorce a missing spouse.

So don’t worry – even if you can’t locate your spouse – we can still help!

We’ve helped many clients obtain divorces without their spouses’ signatures.  The only requirement for a unilateral divorce is that you must not know where your spouse is located.

If you don’t know where they are and we can’t find them, then we can help you get a divorce without your spouse’s signature. They don’t even need to be served for that matter.  The publication of the notice in the newspaper acts to put them on notice.  Pretty cool, huh?  More about this later…

What is a Publication Divorce Anyway?

In short, a New York Publication Divorce is when the Court allows us to publish a legal notice in the newspaper to put your spouse on notice of the fact that you’ve filed for divorce.

This is known as a “legal fiction” or “constructive notice” because the chances that your spouse will read that specific newspapers is one in a billion.

Even though this seems ridiculous to you and me both, this is the law.  We have to work with the law in order to get you divorced.

Let’s Put on Our Sherlock Holmes Hats

The first step in obtaining your Publication Divorce is we need to conduct a diligent search for your spouse.

We need to search the following places for your spouse:

  • the five branches of the United States Military (the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard)
  • the Board of Elections for the appropriate boroughs or counties
  • the New York Department of Motor Vehicles
  • the Post Office in the appropriate boroughs or counties
  • the telephone and internet directories of the appropriate boroughs or counties

We need to document all of our efforts so that we can show the Court that we’ve searched high and low for your spouse but came up empty-handed.

Let’s File a Motion

Once we’ve conducted our thorough search and failed to locate your spouse, then we need to file a motion with the Court to ask them to allow us to do a Publication Divorce.

To support and substantiate our motion request, we will prepare an Affidavit detailing all of our search efforts.  Also, we will prepare an Affidavit for you to sign and notarize as well.

The Court will proscribe the requirements for the publication of the legal notice.  Usually it is to publish a legal notice in the newspaper once a week for three consecutive weeks.

Once the Court grants our motion, we can officially start the divorce.

Let’s Get You Divorced

Now we can file the usual divorce paperwork – the Summons with Notice to get the divorce officially started in the Court.

Obviously, we need to meet the Court’s requirements and need to publish the notice in the way that the Court proscribed.

Once this publication requirement is met, we will file the final papers and request that the Court grant you your divorce.

Technically it will be a default judgment that we’re requesting on your behalf – because your spouse allegedly is put on notice of the divorce via the publication of the legal notice and failed to respond.

Regardless of what the technical legal name of the judgment is – it’s still a legally binding divorce.

Tips and Warnings

I only recommend a Publication Divorce if you truly can’t find your spouse.  If you can somehow locate him or her, doing so will ultimately save you time and money.

Also, if you could have easily located your spouse, then he or she could always come back and challenge the default judgment.  So, if we’re going to do a Publication Divorce, let’s make sure we do it right.  This will save you headaches down the line.

Call now for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help get your divorce even if you can’t locate your spouse – (866) 830-2064.