Divorce is a legal process in which one person files a petition to dissolve their marriage and afterwards, serves their spouse with the divorce papers. Sometimes though, it is not possible to locate the other party so they can be served with the paperwork. This is particularly common in divorce cases, when one spouse may have moved out before the process was initiated, and perhaps they even moved to another state.
Many people think that if they cannot locate their spouse to serve them with the papers, they cannot get a divorce. Fortunately, that is not true. There is another way you can serve your spouse when they are absent. Before using it, you should know that while you can proceed with the divorce, there are some drawbacks. Below, our Tampa default divorce attorney explains further.
Using Due Diligence when Trying to Locate Your Spouse
If you cannot locate your spouse, there are other options for serving the divorce papers, such as citation by publication. A citation by publication is a process of running a divorce announcement in a certain newspaper for a certain amount of time. To get a divorce using citation by publication as a service method, a judge must agree to it. The court will only allow a citation by publication if you can show that you have used due diligence when trying to locate your spouse. Essentially, you must show that you have made every attempt to try and find your spouse. Exercising due diligence could include:
- Contacting your spouse’s current or former employer
- Contacting your spouse’s friends and family members
- Checking your spouse’s social media profiles
- Monitoring your spouse’s bank account or credit card transactions
There are companies who offer services to help you do a diligent search, so essentially it can be done easily for a small fee. The diligent search results will be filed in your case.
What are the Disadvantages of Citation by Publication?
After a judge issues a citation by publication, you will have to meet several requirements. For example, you may have to run the announcement for a certain period of time. Once you have completed any requirements, a judge will issue a default divorce. This means you can proceed with dissolving your marriage even though your spouse is not present. However, there are some disadvantages to obtaining a default divorce.
The main disadvantage of citation by publication is that the court cannot make decisions on other terms of the divorce. For example, the judge will not be able to award child support or alimony, and property division also cannot occur. If you do locate your spouse in the future, you can take these matters back to court but the terms cannot be finalized until your spouse returns.
Our Default Divorce Attorneys in Tampa Can Help with Your Case
If you want to get a divorce but cannot locate your spouse, our Tampa default divorce attorneys at All Family Law Group, P.A. can help you through the process. Call us now at 813-672-1900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help with your case. Se habla Español.