Our legal system requires that you inform your spouse that you want a divorce. However, if you do not know your spouse's whereabouts, you may resort to a procedure called Divorce by Publication.
This is how it works. The law requires, first, that a "diligent effort" be made to "search" for your spouse in the "jurisdiction" where the spouse was last known to live. Your attorney will do this by contacting various agencies - the post office, the board of elections, the different branches of the military, the motor vehicles department-and asking whether they know of the spouse's current or last place of residence. Searches also include telephone directories and the Internet. If a person is found with your spouse's name, an investigation must be done to determine whether that person is actually your spouse. If these efforts result in finding your spouse, notice of your divorce action must be served on your spouse.
However, if the search fails to locate your spouse, your attorney can apply to the court for an Order of Publication. The application must list all of the search efforts to demonstrate to the court that you made a "diligent effort" to find the missing spouse. When an Order of Publication is signed by a judge, your attorney must then publish a legal notice in a newspaper stating that you are bringing a divorce action against your spouse. This is the legal equivalent of "serving notice" with a "summons."
There are a few rules regarding the Order of Publication. One is that the legal notice must be placed in the newspaper within 30 days after the judge has signed the order. The order will specify which newspaper-usually one published where the missing spouse was last known to have lived-and how often the notice must appear three times, consisting of one notice per week for three weeks.
If, after 30 days from the date when the third and last notice was published, the missing spouse does not respond, your attorney can file your divorce "by default." This means that, despite a thorough search effort and sufficient legal notice in a newspaper, the missing spouse has failed to respond to your intention to seek a divorce. He or she is considered to have "defaulted," and your divorce can then be filed with the court. Once your papers have been approved, your divorce will be granted. You should expect that a divorce by publication from beginning to end will take about one year to complete.
We offer free consultations. Our fee for a divorce by publication, without financial issues, is $3,000. This includes both our legal fee and all of the expenses except for the cost of the legal notice, which typically costs approximately $1,000. In addition to accepting major credit cards we also offer payment plans.