How Do I Get Divorced if My Spouse is Parts Unknown?

Many people who seek divorce do not know their spouse’s whereabouts, yet they must comply with the requirement to provide notice to their spouse.  How do you serve a spouse in-hand when you have no clue where your spouse resides?  Or if your spouse is even alive?

Answer: You file a Motion for Alternate Service.  In this motion, you inform the court that your spouse is parts unknown.  You explain where you last saw the spouse, and all the efforts you have made to locate the spouse at the present time.  If you demonstrate that you have diligently, and unsuccessfully, attempted to locate your spouse, the court will most likely grant the alternate service and direct you to publish notice in a local newspaper.

With the court’s permission, you then contact the indicated newspaper and ask them to run notice of the divorce proceeding in their publication.  (The cost of publication varies.)  You file the tear sheet of the newspaper notice with the court.  You also file the certified mail return from the summons that you mailed your spouse at the last known address.

The case will then proceed to a hearing, at which point the court may grant the divorce.