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Jul 12 2022

If I Cannot Locate my Spouse, Can I File for Divorce?

Deciding whether to pursue a divorce or not can be a difficult decision for an individual to make. Many factors go into the decision and oftentimes it may be a decision that the couple makes together. However, if one spouse is not able to be located, it might feel overwhelming trying to know the right steps to take in pursuit of a divorce. At Atticus Family Law, we’re here to help you understand your rights and responsibilities in Minnesota divorces. 

How Can I Serve Divorce Papers if I Cannot Locate My Spouse?

In most divorce proceedings, the spouse requesting the divorce will serve the other spouse with divorce papers, indicating the beginning of the divorce process. However, if one spouse is unable to be located, this is not usually an option. In this instance, a Motion to Serve by Publication or Posting would take effect. This is when the spouse requesting a divorce asks the court to release a notice of the divorce in the courthouse or local newspaper in which they believe their spouse is located. 

Before a judge can grant permission for a Motion to Serve, the spouse requesting the divorce must be able to prove that they have made significant efforts to locate the spouse. This can be achieved by providing evidence such as text messages with no replies or any documents that could establish the missing whereabouts of the spouse. If the judge believes that you have enough proof to show that the spouse is unable to be located, they can grant a Motion to Serve. However, the judge can deny your request as well if they believe not enough has been done to locate the spouse. 

What Happens After a Motion to Serve Is Established?

After your Motion to Serve has been granted, you are responsible for contacting the newspapers to establish publication dates. The judge will specify how often the notice should be posted and in what type of circulation it should appear. In addition, the judge will provide a notice for you to give the newspapers so they will be able to publish your request. Individuals should be prepared to pay fees for publication, as the court does not cover this. The alternative to this is requesting permission to post the notice in the courthouse. This notice will be posted by the court and this helps alleviate any financial burdens on the spouse requesting the motion. 

If the spouse doesn’t respond to the Motion to Serve, the judge will establish alternative ways to locate the spouse and proceed with divorce procedures. Individuals should be prepared for this alternative, as spouses often won’t respond to the initial request for divorce proceedings. The judge will then reevaluate what the best procedures are next in regards to the divorce request. 

Contact Our Team Today

If you need assistance in the next steps after trying to locate your spouse, our team is here to help. Contact us today to speak with one of our trusted attorneys.

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