Can I get a divorce if I have separated for 3 years and cannot now find my husband?

UPDATED: Oct 12, 2010

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Can I get a divorce if I have separated for 3 years and cannot now find my husband?

I filed for divorce in which my spouse would not sign the papers. It has been 3 years since we have separated. I do not know where he is nor have I heard from him.

Asked on October 12, 2010 under Family Law, Pennsylvania


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

l will assume that you meet all residency and other requirements in the state in which you want to file. that being the case, you can get what is known as a "divorce by default".  What you'll have to do prepare your divorce papers and file them with the court. The court will then issue a citation or the like, and your spouse will need to be served.  In this case, you can "serve" the divorce complaint via a "notice by publication".  This is used when a "respondent-spouse" (your husband) cannot be located by the "petitioner-spouse" (you) in a divorce proceeding. 

The way this works is that 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 time period (generally 30 days or so), if your spouse does not answer and defaults, you will then file your final paperwork and appear before the judge (usually in 60 days).  As a general rule, a divorce is then granted on the terms that you requested.

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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