When your spouse mysteriously goes missing just as you’re trying to serve up divorce papers, things tend to get a little tricky. You may be wondering how exactly you can move forward with the separation when you’re the only party to the divorce? Here in Florida, you would proceed as usual, filing all the typical requisite petitions. However, the key difference is you will have to meet Florida’s constructive service requirements. Here are some key things to expect when seeking divorce while your spouse is AWOL.
Once you file the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, you can start the ball rolling to service your spouse by publication. First you will have to conduct an exhaustive search for your spouse, beginning with their last known location. When you’ve completed the search, file an Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry detailing any and all efforts you made to find your spouse. Be sure to keep detailed records throughout your search so that you may include these with your affidavit.
The court should then issue a Notice of Action allowing you to service by publication within 60 days of filing your Affidavit of Diligent Search. You will then run the information outlined in the court’s Notice of Action in the legal notices section of a local newspaper. This will serve as official notice of the divorce action. After the publication runs in the papers for four weeks, you will file an Affidavit as Proof of Publication, charting all of your efforts to locate and give your spouse proper notification. Once the court is satisfied that you’ve met the standards of Florida’s constructive service statute, the court will enter a default judgment granting your divorce.
Divorce laws are complex, and filing for divorce while your spouse is missing can complicate matters even more. It’s in your best interest to consult with an experienced divorce attorney in order to ensure you’re complying with Florida statute and that your rights are being protected.
This post was written by David Hurvitz. Follow David on Google+.