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18 Jul 16

What If I Cannot Locate My Spouse?

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There are times when someone filing for divorce can’t find his or her spouse. This can make filing a bit trickier, but it’s still possible to file when you don’t know where your spouse is living. You’ll have to make an effort to find your spouse, but if you can’t, you’ll be able to file a Motion to Serve by Publication or Posting.

Efforts to Find Your Spouse
While there are no set rules on how to find your spouse, the judge will expect you to have made every effort to locate him or her. He’ll decide if you’ve done all that you could. If you haven’t, the judge may dismiss the motion, and you’ll have to start the process all over again.

Many people don’t know where to start except with family and friends. That’s exactly where you should start. Take notes of who you contacted and the information they gave you. If they won’t share information, you’ll need to state that in your motion.

You can check your spouses last known address. You can do this by mail and in person depending on where it is. Call the last place your spouse worked. If you know any of his or her coworkers, you could ask them if they know where your spouse is now.

The Internet is a good source for information too. Social media accounts are a good place to start. If you can find her family or friends there, you might be able to contact them for information too.

What to Include in the Motion

  • Last time you saw your spouse
  • The location of that last sighting
  • The steps you took to locate your spouse
  • The people you contacted and information they gave you

After the Search
When you believed you’ve exhausted all possibilities, you can file your motion with the court. Attach the notes of what you did to find your spouse to the motion for the judge to read. You can also attach returned mail that will show you looked.

The judge will review the motion and make a decision. That decision can be mailed to you, or you might receive it through your lawyer.

Motion Denied
In some cases, the judge might deny your motion because she feels you haven’t done enough to locate your spouse. She might have suggestions for what to do next. You should follow up on those suggestions and refile your motion. In other cases, she might only say that you haven’t done enough. You’ll have to figure out what more you can do and refile the motion.

Motion Granted
Once the judge grants your motion, you’ll be required to publish a notice in the newspaper. This will need to occur once a week for three weeks. It might be required that you post in two different newspapers. One can be a local newspaper and the other with wider circulation.

You are responsible for calling the newspapers and paying for the notice. The judge will send a signed slip that will need to go to the newspaper office before they’ll print a notice for you. The costs for this will vary on the newspaper. You’ll have to contact them to find out the costs.

Published Notice
The newspaper office will mail you an affidavit that the notice was posted. This needs to be filed with the judge, so he knows that you’ve taken the next step.

What if You Can’t Afford a Newspaper Notice?
There are cases where you might not be able to afford to place a notice in the paper. You can ask for permission to have the notice posted in the courthouse. The court first has to review your financial status, and you’ll have to explain why you can’t afford to pay for a notice.

The judge will decide whether to grant you a fee waiver. You’ll receive his judgement in the mail. If the judge grants permission for the notice in the courthouse, they will take care of the posting. If the judge doesn’t give you permission, you’ll have to post in the newspaper.

Even if you know your spouse will never see a posting in the courthouse or the newspaper, the law requires you to make every effort to find your spouse.

These are important steps to take in filing for your divorce. You may never hear from your spouse, but if you want the divorce, this is what the law requires. You have to make every effort at locating him or her. A divorce lawyer in NYC can help you with parts of this process and make suggestions on how to locate your spouse.

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