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Getting A Divorce When Your Mate Is Nowhere To Be Found

So, you have been alone for some time now. You have gotten over the initial shock of your mate's leave-taking and are moving on with your life. The question is, how to become legally free so you don't have to worry about the problems that could come with acquiring assets or wanting to get remarried, etc?

Consult a Family Attorney

The first thing you will want to do is consult a local divorce or family law attorney, such as at Law Offices of Lynda Latta, LLC. They can give you specific advice on your state's laws and requirements you will have to meet to become legally divorced. They may also recommend a private investigator to help you locate your errant spouse. 

Make an Honest Effort To Locate The Person

Whether or not you can afford a private investigator, you should be prepared to show that a diligent search for your mate was made, so keep of a precise record of your efforts. The divorce court is interested in protecting the rights and interests of both mates, so the judge will want to know you did your best to locate and inform your spouse of your intentions.

You can start by looking for the last known address of your soon-to-ex. You might get lucky if you go to a free phone number lookup website and plug in their name. 

You can also try:

  • Asking all the ex's friends and relatives about the ex's possible whereabouts. Even if they can't or won't help you, you should note talking to them including names, dates, and comments.
  • Putting your ex's name (or user names they have used in the past) in several search engines to see what turns up. It could be that they have been involved in an incident somewhere that is written about in a news article. They could be advertising their services,  or they could have written a forum post. You never know what you might find if you put in the time and have some patience.
  • Contacting each branch of the military if they could have possibly enlisted. This will definitely test your persistence because of security issues in these post 9-11 days.
  • Checking state mental institutions. They will require you to have proof that you are married to them but once that is satisfied, the social worker can tell you if they are a patient or give you any forwarding addresses they have. It's possible that your ex may have had help getting a new place to live through the state after they were discharged.
  • Checking Jail and prison websites, to see if your ex is incarcerated.

Default Divorce or Divorce by Publication

To initiate a divorce, you will have to gather all the papers and fill them out. If you don't have children, and don't have many assets, you may feel comfortable with doing this yourself.  You will be able get paper copies of the forms at your local courthouse. A court clerk can't give you any legal advice whatsoever, but they can assist you in getting the proper forms to fill out and turn in. Your state may also provide fill-able forms online that you can print out.

You will need to purchase a how to book or get one at the library to direct you on filling out the forms and following the procedures if you are doing this pro per (yourself). There may a local legal aid society or entity that can help or answer your questions.

You could run into the problem of finding your ex, but then they refuse to accept or to sign any papers. Don't despair, you can still proceed with the divorce.

Whether you find them or not, you can request a Order of Notice by Publication from the court. Then you will put a legal notice in the local newspaper that is nearest your ex's last known whereabouts and it should run for three weeks. You will need to file a affidavit of marshal service to the court, and have a copy of your notice included in your filed paperwork. 

Finally, the court can proceed to enter orders about your marital property, child custody and child support, and your divorce will be granted.