If my wife left my son a year ago and I haven’t seen her since, canI get a divorce without her?

UPDATED: Oct 20, 2011

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If my wife left my son a year ago and I haven’t seen her since, canI get a divorce without her?

Asked on October 20, 2011 under Family Law, Ohio


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Quite possibly. There is a legal remedy known as "divorce by publication". The fact is that before legal action can be taken against a person they must be given an opportunity to appear and explain their side. This is what is called "notice".  And a divorce by publication allows a spouse to be served notice of the divorce action. 

The Petitioner (i.e. the filing spouse) must make a dilegent search to find the Respondent (i.e. the missing spouse). The Petitioner has to present proof to a court that they made a good faith effort to uncover their spouse's whereabouts. At that point the Petitioner will be allowed to "serve" the Repondent by publishing notice of the divorce in a newspaper (instead of the more usual method of personal service.  The court will instruct the Petitioner as to which newspaper should be used (typically one that is in the area of the Respondent's last known address). 

The Respondent then has 30-60 days to file an answer. If they fail to do so, the Petitioner can file a request to enter a "default divorce". Such a divorce is generally granted upon the terms requested by the Petitioner (although the Respondent is given a certain time in which they can appeal).

At this point you should consult directly with a divorce attorney in your area. They can best advise you as to proceed.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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