Filing for divorce in California is usually a straightforward process. However, what happens if you want to file for divorce from a spouse whom you can not find? Can you still file for divorce without the other spouse? In order to properly file for divorce in California the other spouse must have notice of the filing, which can be done through voluntary acceptance of the documents, personal service of the documents, or legal publication. Voluntary acceptance can only be done in person, which makes it impossible to provide service in this way when you have a missing spouse, so a person filing for divorce requires other means.
Using an Investigator to Find a Missing Spouse
Before resorting to publication to file for divorce, you may be required to utilize a private investigator to try and find a missing spouse. The courts require that some efforts be made to locate a missing spouse to serve the papers through personal service. Typically, a private investigator costs around $100, sometimes a little more, depending on where the missing spouse might be located. The investigator will work to find a current address, and if the missing spouse is living close enough, can deliver the paperwork in person. If the spouse is located but refuses to accept the paperwork, substituted service can be utilized to serve the paperwork to file for divorce. This is done by attempting at least three times to leave the petition for divorce with your spouse and then leaving it with an adult who lives in the home and filling out the Proof of Service form.
Regardless of whether the investigator can find the missing spouse, he or she will create a report of the findings that you can file with the court. If the spouse can not be located, you can utilize publication to file for divorce.
Using Publication to File for Divorce
In some situations, an investigator can not find a current address or known whereabouts of a missing spouse. If you can show the courts that efforts have been made to track down a missing spouse, you can request a California court serve the divorce papers through publication. A summons is published in an approved newspaper by the court to offer notice of the divorce filing to the missing spouse. The notice must be published once per week for four weeks, and service is considered rendered at the end of the 28th day after the notice is first published. If at any point during the 28 days an address or location is found for the missing spouse, someone 18 years or older must mail the missing spouse a copy of the paperwork and file a Proof of Service by Mail with the court.
Talk to a Divorce Attorney Today
To schedule a consultation regarding any questions about family law in California, contact one of the family law attorneys at Kearney | Baker today at 626-768-2945.