When a couple decides to end their marriage, one or both spouses may file for divorce. However, in some cases, a marriage can end when one spouse simply walks out and leaves the other spouse wondering what went wrong and questioning his or her spouse's whereabouts. In this situation, the spouse who was left behind is placed in a difficult position. The commencement of all civil actions, including divorce, requires that the other party be served with the petition. Therefore, if one does not know where his or her spouse is, how can he or she serve the spouse with divorce papers? Although challenging, divorcing an absent spouse can be accomplished.
Palatine Divorce by Publication
If you do not know your spouse’s location, you can not simply file for divorce and state that you cannot find him or her. In order to get divorced in your spouse’s absence, you must prove to the Court that you performed due diligence
in attempting to locate him or her. Hence, you must exhaust all options in trying to uncover his or her whereabouts. Due diligence in this situation may include:
- Attempting to contact your spouse at his or her last known address;
- Attempting to contact your spouse at his or her last known employer;
- Asking family members or close friends of his or her whereabouts;
- Performing an Internet search, including a search of social media sites; or
- Searching property records in your spouse's area of residence.
This is not an exhaustive list, but only representative of the type of search you may undertake to locate your spouse. The circumstances of each individual case dictate where and how extensively you should search.
If the absent spouse cannot be located after conducting a diligent search, then you must file an affidavit with the Court. An affidavit is a sworn statement where you explain to the Court all the ways you attempted to locate your spouse. After submitting the affidavit, you may publish a notice to the absent spouse in the newspaper.
The notice must describe the divorce action and the date of any Court proceedings. It must be published in a newspaper in the county where the divorce was filed, unless the county has a population of less than two million, in which case it must be filed in a newspaper in the municipality where you lived as a couple. The notice
must be published once a week for three consecutive weeks.
Once 30 days have passed since the first publication, you are free to move for an entry of uncontested default, which means the Judge will issue an order of divorce in spite of your spouse’s absence.
There are, however, disadvantages to divorce by publication. The Court cannot make any decisions regarding maintenance (alimony), child support
or division of assets
if your spouse is not present. You can re-open the case if your absent spouse returns, but it is in your best interest to locate your spouse, even to the point of hiring a private investigator to have a Court determination of all the issues, particularly if there are children involved and you need child support.
Palatine Divorce Attorney
If you are contemplating divorce, contact Palatine divorce attorney
Nicholas W. Richardson today to schedule a consultation. With more than a decade of experience handling divorce, child custody and other family law matters, Nicholas W. Richardson is an experienced, compassionate divorce attorney who can help guide you through any issue that may arise.