How do I obtain a divorce from someone I have seperated from for years?

UPDATED: Aug 2, 2011

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How do I obtain a divorce from someone I have seperated from for years?

I left my husband 9 1/2 years ago and for the 1st 4 years after I left him we were in and out of court about the divorce. We owned a home together; originally I was to pay him $10,000 to “buy him out”. After I had paid him $9100, he no longer accepted payments, no longer would respond to any lawyers (including his own), the mortgage company, or myself. Neither of us live in the house and it is going up for tax sale. I want no ties with this man, can anyone please tell me how I can get a divorce after all these years? I can not afford a lawyer and I no longer live in PA where I was married.

Asked on August 2, 2011 Oregon


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First of all you can file for divorce in the state where you now reside (you needn't divorce in the state where you were married). In such a situation, you can obtain what is called a "divorce by default". You will file the appropriate papers with the court. Your husband will need to be served. If you can't locate him (and you must have tried ingood faith to have done so), notice of the divorce complaint can be served via "notice by publication".  This is a method of service used when a "respondent-spouse" (your husband) cannot be located by the "petitioner-spouse" (you)  in a divorce proceeding. 

It works this way:  The respondent is notified of the divorce proceedings by publishing notice in a local paper in the area of their last known address.  Then, after a specified period of time (usually 30 days or so), if your spouse does not answer that constitutes a "default".  Accordingly you will then file your final paperwork and appear before the judge (typically in 60 days).  As a general rule, a divorce is then granted on the terms that you request.

Contact the local court. It may be able to help you with this and/or provide the proper forms. If not contact Legal Aid perhaps they can help you. Also, see if there is a law school nearby to you as the run free/low cost legal clinics.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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