How to Get a Divorce When Your Spouse Has Gone Missing
If you want to get a divorce but your spouse is nowhere to be found, don’t lose hope. Under Texas law, as long as you meet the state’s legal residency requirements, there are ways to obtain a divorce from a husband or wife who is unavailable or unresponsive, as long as you make a good faith attempt to locate and serve them with divorce papers.
While it is always best to consult with Dallas divorce lawyers about your particular circumstances, the following provides some general information about how to obtain a divorce from someone who is MIA.
Perform a Diligent Search
Before you can obtain a divorce in Texas from a missing spouse, you have to make a good effort to locate them. You will need to conduct a serious search—contact the U.S. Postal Service, reach out to your spouse’s last known place of employment, track down any known relatives, search the internet, etc.—and then, if you still can’t find them, execute an Affidavit of Diligent Search. You will need to attach this affidavit to the divorce petition that you file with the court.
Publish a Notice
If you and your missing spouse don’t have any children, you will then need to file some specific documents in the family law court in your county of residence, including:
- An Affidavit for Citation by Publication and Diligent Search
- A Supporting Affidavit for Citation by Publication
- A Certificate of Last Known Address
- A Statement of Evidence, setting forth your reasons for divorce
You must also execute divorce papers and, since you don’t know where to find your spouse, the court will post a summons at the court, which will qualify as notice, also known as service of process. Your spouse will then have 60 days to respond to the notice. As long as you don’t have children with your estranged spouse, after the 60 days have passed, the divorce will be finalized during a hearing scheduled by the judge.
If you do have children with your missing husband or wife, however, you need to make an extra effort to find them. Texas law requires that you publish a notice that you have a scheduled divorce hearing in a publication that is local to the last known address of your spouse. If you receive no response or he or she fails to show up at the hearing, then the judge can grant your divorce during the hearing.
Why You Should Contact Our Dallas Divorce Lawyers
As with any situation concerning a legal proceeding such as a divorce, failure to follow all the legal requirements can cause you difficulties later, especially if you are seeking to remarry or have issues regarding child custody or child support in the future. Experienced Dallas divorce lawyers are in the best position to guide you through the process and advise you as to what forms need to be filed, how to conduct an exhaustive search for your missing spouse, and what types of notices to publish and where.
For help with your divorce, contact the office of Michael P. Granata either online or by calling 214-977-9050.