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Divorcing a Missing Spouse

If you have been abandoned by your spouse, you may be wondering if divorce is an option. Upon filing for divorce, the filing spouse is legally required to serve the non-filing spouse with notice. In a situation in which a filing spouse has been abandoned, the filing spouse may not be able to reach the missing spouse for notice. If you are seeking a divorce from a missing spouse, there is an option available to you.

In Florida, a divorce from a missing spouse can be accomplished through a process called divorce by publication. Divorce by publication requires the filing spouse to demonstrate to a court that he or she has been unable to locate the missing spouse after conducting a diligent search. In order to prove that a diligent search has been conducted, the filing spouse must show more than just a minimal effort to locate the missing spouse. Courts will look for such actions as contacting the spouse’s last employer, contacting all known relatives, and checking with the Armed Forces for information about the missing spouse. All possible connections and potential leads must be exhausted before divorce by publication will be allowed.

Once a search has been completed, an Affidavit of Diligent Search outlining the filing spouse’s actions in attempting to locate the missing spouse must be approved by the court. Upon approval, the filing spouse will then be required to provide notice of dissolution by publication in Florida. If the missing spouse was not a Florida resident, a court may require publication of notice in the local newspaper of the spouse’s last-known residence. If the missing spouse does not respond within 28 days, default divorce proceedings will move forward.

If your spouse has disappeared and you are interested in seeking a divorce by publication in Florida, contact an experienced attorney who can guide you through this process.