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Serving a missing or unreachable spouse divorce papers

On Behalf of | Jul 14, 2023 | Family Law |

Some people would rather move to another state or disappear rather than go through the trouble of getting a divorce from their partner. If this were to happen to you, you could be at a loss as to how to legally separate from your spouse. Thankfully, divorcing in Georgia is possible even if one party cannot be located.

Georgia’s divorce by publication allows you to file a divorce if your spouse is missing.

Conducting a diligent search

Before you may file for divorce by publication, you must first serve them with a petition for dissolution. If your spouse fails to respond to the petition or you are unsure where to serve them, you must make every reasonable attempt to locate your spouse.

The state website has an extensive guideline on how to do a diligent search. You could search for your spouse at their last known residence and job, contact their family and friends, or utilize social media to find out what they were doing before they went missing.

It will be important to keep track of everything you do to find your spouse, from the avenues you made use of to the documents you tried to send.

Serving your spouse remotely

If you have exhausted all other options and still can’t find your spouse, you may request the court allow you to service by publication. If the court believes you’ve tried everything to find your spouse, they’ll approve your request. This is where the documentation of your search efforts will come in handy.

Once you receive authorization from the court, then you can go ahead and issue a Notice of Publication. This allows you to serve your spouse remotely through a court-approved newspaper or publication.

Within a 60-day period, you must publish the notice four times, each seven days apart. Your spouse has 30 days after the last Notice of Publication to respond. In the absence of a response, the court will presume that the divorce is uncontested and schedule a final hearing.

Divorce is difficult under any circumstances, but it may be extremely traumatic if one of the spouses is gone. It’s also possible that the court won’t be able to settle issues over child support or alimony. If you need help determining what steps to take, you may consult an attorney.