Cannot Locate Your Spouse? – Divorce By Publication
IF YOU ABSOLUTELY CANNOT LOCATE YOUR SPOUSE AFTER A DILIGENT EFFORT, YOU MAY HAVE TO RESORT TO A DIVORCE BY PUBLICATION. THIS PROCEDURE IS COSTLY AND SHOULD ONLY BE CONSIDERED AFTER ALL EFFORTS TO LOCATE YOUR SPOUSE HAVE BEEN EXHAUSTED.
New York matrimonial law requires that you place your spouse on notice that you desire a divorce. If you do not know your spouse’s location, you may be forced to pursue a procedure known as a “Divorce by Publication.”
In order to process a Divorce by Publication, 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. Various agencies must be contacted such as 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.
If this diligent search process fails to locate your spouse, a motion must be filed with the New York State Supreme 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 your missing spouse. When an Order of Publication is signed by a judge, a legal notice must be published 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. Generally, the notice is published 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, the divorce may proceed to final judgment “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 approximately six to nine months to complete.
The fee for a divorce by publication, without financial issues, is $3,995. This includes both processing fees and all of the expenses except for the cost of the legal notice, which typically costs between $750 and $2,500. Payment plans may be arranged.
IF YOU DESIRE TO PURSUE A DIVORCE BY PUBLICATION PLEASE CALL US DIRECTLY AT: