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How to Divorce an Absent Spouse? Florida Divorce by Publication

Most divorces follow a similar pattern. One spouse indicates her desire for a divorce. The couple meets with an attorney, one files the paperwork, and the other moves out of the family home. The divorce goes through its paces, with the couple dividing assets and agreeing to a time-sharing plan for the children, until the day when the court issues its final decree and the couple is officially un-coupled.

But in some cases, one spouse simply wakes up one morning and walks out, never to return and giving no indication to the left behind spouse as to his whereabouts. This makes it difficult – but not impossible – for the abandoned spouse to get a divorce.

Florida Divorce by Publication When Spouse’s Whereabouts Unknown

Every party to a lawsuit must be notified of the proceeding and given the right to participate. In the case of an absent spouse, notice of the hearing is difficult since the party who initiated the divorce has no idea of his whereabouts. In these situations, you will have to provide notice to the absent spouse constructive service, also known as service by publication.

However, it is not enough to simply state, “I do not know where my spouse is and do not know how to contact him,” and then file a notice in the newspaper. The law requires that you exercise due diligence in your attempts to locate your absent spouse, which means that you must exhaust all potential avenues that exist to find him. Due diligence when it comes to locating an absent spouse may include:

  • Contacting his last known employer;
  • Questioning family members and close friends as to his whereabouts;
  • Conducting a Google search;
  • Checking social media accounts, such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, for any clues as to his whereabouts, and;
  • Monitoring bank and credit card accounts to check for withdrawal locations.

If, after exhausting all options, you cannot find your spouse, then you are required to file an affidavit with the court outlining your failed attempts. You may then publish notice in the paper notifying your spouse of the divorce action.

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 absent spouse in the newspaper.

While divorce by publication can sever the marriage, it has several disadvantages. Without the presence of both spouses the court is unable to:

  • Divide marital assets and debts;
  • Award alimony or child support, or;
  • Create a time-sharing agreement (though the practical implication of an absent spouse is that you will be awarded sole custody).

These issues cannot be decided until the absent spouse returns. So it is in the best interest of all involved if you do whatever it takes to locate your spouse, including hiring a private investigator if your finances allow it, so that these issues can be decided now.

Boca Raton Divorce Attorneys Here to Help

If you want a divorce but cannot locate your spouse, the Boca Raton divorce attorneys at Schwartz | White can help. Divorce by publication requires a number of steps beyond what is required in the typical divorce, and proper execution of these steps is necessary to ensure that the divorce will be granted. Our attorneys can help walk you through the process so that you can end the marriage and begin the process of moving on with your life. Contact us today at 561-391-9943, or complete our convenient web form, to schedule an appointment with an attorney.

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