Can you obtain a divorce if you are unable to locate your spouse? Yes, you may obtain a divorce if you can’t locate your spouse. However, you will be required to take additional steps to attempt to locate your spouse prior to your divorce being granted by the judge.
When you don’t know your spouse’s location, you must prove to the court that you have made a reasonable effort to locate them. What will the judge consider a “reasonable effort” to locate your spouse?
The following is a list of actions you should take to attempt to find your spouse:
- Facebook – via message – see if your spouse opened it.
- United States Post office through Freedom of Information Act for current address or any relocations. Complete the Address Information Request Form with your local post office.
- Last known employment – ask for any address to which their W-2 forms were mailed.
- Unions that your spouse may have worked for their specific trade or craft.
- Contact their relatives – documenting the names of who you spoke to, their relationship with your spouse, date of contact, and their responses. Relatives can include parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.
- Online search using an Internet databank locator services.
- Department of Motor Vehicles in the state of their last known address.
- Department of Corrections Inmate search database in the state of their last known address.
- Letters to the Armed Forces of the U.S. and their response as to whether or not there is any information about your spouse.
- Secretary of State – requesting spouse’s driving record.
If you’ve not been successful in locating your spouse, then the court can grant you permission to serve your spouse via alternate service. A motion for alternate service will need to be filed with the court, indicating to the court all of your efforts you have made to locate your spouse. This is not to say you must complete all of the above tasks before the judge will grant you an order for alternate service. However, you must show the court you have made reasonable and diligent efforts to locate your spouse.
The two most common forms of alternate service that the court traditionally grants are Newspaper publication (in a location where you think your spouse lives) and Facebook/social media. The court will most likely require you to use both of these methods for alternate service.
Once you have accomplished the alternate service as required by the court, your divorce case may move forward.
GRAND RAPIDS COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE ATTORNEY SERVING KENT, OTTAWA, AND ALLEGAN COUNTY. CONTACT SCHMITT LAW, PLLC FOR GUIDANCE.
Laws surrounding alternate service in a divorce can be complex. We invite you to call Schmitt Law, PLLC to learn more about your rights as it pertains to divorce. For skilled legal guidance, contact Schmitt Law, PLLC online or call (616) 608-4634 to arrange a consultation.
Our office is located at 401 Hall Street SW, Suite 112D, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.