No two divorce experiences are ever the same. As we all know, all families are different, and one family's divorce process may look very different from another. While some families may legally separate quickly and amicably, this can be much more complicated if the location of one of the spouses is unknown.
Divorce by publication is the type of dissolution of marriage that a petitioner can request when the defendant's location is unknown or cannot be determined. This type of divorce is sometimes known as a “missing spouse,” “newspaper,” or a “one signature” divorce. In the state of Florida, you may still be able to file for a divorce even if the location of your spouse is currently unknown. If you want to know more about divorce by publication and the process of obtaining this particular type of dissolution of marriage, then keep scrolling.
Locating Your Missing Spouse
When filing for a divorce by publication, the Florida courts require the Petitioner to conduct a thorough search for their missing partners. In other words, if the Respondent is nowhere to be found or will not be found, the Petitioner must do a “diligent search” followed by Service by Publication.
There are a variety of ways that the Petitioner can take action to try and locate their spouse:
- Search public records of the tax collector
- Check previously known residences
- Contact family and friends of the Respondent
- Inquire with previous or current workplace
- Find out whether the Respondent is deceased – if so, date and location will be needed.
These steps are the minimum required of you by the court. If some of them were not taken, your case might not be reviewed until they are. You are encouraged to take additional action to find your spouse, such as hiring a private investigator, if you have the means to do it.
Divorce by Publication Process
To be eligible for a divorce by publication, you must complete and submit an Affidavit of Diligent Search to the court. If the Respondent has never lived in Florida, the court may require your divorce by publication to be carried out in the Respondent's last known address. Below is a step-by-step guide if you have exhausted every method of locating your spouse and wish to file a dissolution of marriage.
1 – Prepare and notarize the divorce documents for a divorce by publication.
2 – Perform searches and print all the documentation.
3 – File the case with the proof of search. You may use letters, print screenshots, and find text chains with responses from different organizations, employers, friends, and anyone else you contacted.
4 – If you have a lower income, the court will issue the Notice of Publication. Otherwise, you will need to have it printed for 30 days.
5 – If you do not receive any response from your spouse, file the default paperwork after the expiration date and request a hearing. Please note this hearing is waived if there are no minor children involved in your divorce.
6 – Attend the hearing and get your divorce!
Divorce by publication can be confusing without the proper guidance. Family Matters Law Group, P.A. has the specific goal of providing solid legal advice and support to families throughout South Florida, including Broward and Miami Dade County, that are experiencing family issues. We've worked with families all over South Florida in the past, including cities like Sunrise, Weston, Fort Lauderdale, Doral, El Portal, and Aventura. Contact us to get you started on the right path.