What If I Cannot Find My Spouse During The Divorce Proceedings?
At the start of every divorce case in Georgia, the spouse who wants to file for divorce, called the petitioner or plaintiff, must serve the other spouse, called the defendant, a copy of the divorce petition and a summons. This is usually not an issue. In some cases, however, the couple may be separated or not in speaking terms, and the petitioner can’t find the defendant.
When the petitioner has taken the proper steps to locate their spouse to no avail, they can request the judge for permission to conduct a service by publication.
What Exactly is Service By Publication?
When requesting a service by publication, your lawyer will submit the request that contains steps you have taken to find your spouse. The court will issue an order for publication if you convince the judge that you have taken all the necessary steps to locate your spouse. Once approved, you must publish a notice of the divorce case in a local court-approved newspaper or similar publication.
You can ask the local court clerk for details. Some clerk’s offices can publish the notice for a fee, so make sure to ask for this option. The notice must be published at least four times in 60 days. The publications must be no more than seven days apart. Your spouse must file their response to your divorce petition within 30 to 60 days, depending on the circumstances. Your divorce case will begin if they fail to respond within the waiting period.
How Can I Find My Spouse?
The judge will expect that you have made a diligent effort to find your spouse prior to requesting a service by publication. At the least, you must take the following steps to find your spouse:
- Check the telephone listings or the Internet for the last known place your spouse resided.
- Go to your spouse’s last known address. Try asking the neighbors for information if your spouse is not there.
- Check the post office if your spouse left a forwarding address.
- Reach out to the DMV for registrations in your spouse’s name.
- If you know where they work, try sending your petition there, or ask your spouse’s last employer if they know where your spouse may be currently working.
- Check any possible sources, including your spouse’s friends and family (if applicable), to determine your spouse’s current address.
Your Georgia divorce lawyer can likewise help you find your spouse. Lawyers have the means of tracking down people that average citizens don’t have access to. Your lawyer may also be working with process servers and private investigators who have the skills to find people who don’t want to be, or are difficult, to find.
Consult With a Reputable Suwanee Divorce Attorney Today
If you need advice finding your spouse, are considering filing for divorce, or have any questions about your ongoing divorce, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Banks, Stubbs & McFarland. You can learn more about your case in a free consultation with our Suwanee divorce attorney by sending us an online message or calling 770-945-2320.