Can’t Find Your Spouse? Here’s How to Get a Divorce in Florida by Publication!

cant find your spouse

Usually, the decision to divorce is known or even made by both spouses. Their ability to cooperate largely determines whether the process will be smooth and inexpensive or stressful and costly. However, there are situations where only one person wants to end the marriage and has no way to communicate this to their spouse because they cannot be found. Are there options for a missing spouse divorce in Florida?

Fortunately, yes. The absence of one spouse doesn’t make the dissolution of marriage impossible. In such cases, you can file for divorce by publication.

What Is Divorce by Publication?

Divorce by publication involves notifying your spouse about the initiation of the divorce process through a newspaper publication. Normally, the process of service requires handing over paperwork to the other party for their response. However, when a spouse cannot be found, the petitioner can make a divorce announcement in a newspaper. This is considered a “last resort” and is granted by courts only under special conditions.

Who Qualifies for Divorce by Publication?

Not everyone can qualify for a divorce through publication. Simply stating that you don’t know where your spouse is will not be sufficient. You will need to receive permission from the court and provide evidence that you have done everything possible to locate your spouse. This involves several steps outlined below.

How to Get a Divorce by Publication

Before publishing a divorce notice in a newspaper, you must exhaust all efforts to locate your spouse. Here are some steps you might need to take to provide the judge with solid evidence:

  • Record the last time you saw your spouse.
  • Send paperwork to your spouse’s last known address by regular and certified mail, and check for any returns. Additionally, visit their home and ask neighbors or locals for any information.
  • Contact their workplace and family members to ask if they know their whereabouts.
  • Search social media for clues. Also, check databases like the Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. military locator, Social Security Death Index, and the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • Check criminal records, phone directories, and public records in areas where your spouse might reside.

Whatever efforts you make to find your spouse, keep a detailed record. If the judge reviews your evidence and concludes that your spouse cannot be located, you can start the process of service by publication in Florida:

  • Fill out all the necessary forms for divorce by publication.
  • File the paperwork with the court and wait for the court to issue a Notice of Action. The waiting period is about 60 days.
  • Publish the notice in one or two court-approved newspapers for 28 days.
  • If your spouse does not respond, you can ask the court to proceed with the divorce case.

Divorce by Publication with Minor Children

You can get a divorce with a missing spouse even if you have minor children, but you cannot obtain child support since the spouse’s location and income are unknown.

When filing for divorce with children, serving the other party is mandatory. If the parent is missing, you must use all available resources to locate and serve them with the paperwork. This is required even if your spouse has never been involved in your children’s lives.

If you’ve exhausted all efforts to find your spouse and still failed, you can request a divorce by publication from the court. After that, you can publish your notice in a court-approved newspaper. If the other parent does not respond, they can request a case review two years after the divorce is finalized.

How Long Does Divorce by Publication Take?

This type of marriage dissolution usually takes about 7-8 weeks due to several required steps and possible delays. First, you must wait for 60 days before making a publication. Then, the notice must be published for at least 28 days in a newspaper. After that, the divorce can be finalized.

How Much Does a Divorce by Publication Cost?

Divorce by publication is generally lengthier and more expensive than a simple uncontested divorce. Costs vary depending on specific circumstances. Cases with children tend to be more costly. The publication itself may cost around $100. Contact several court-approved newspapers to inquire about their rates for a 4-week publication. Additionally, you must pay a $408 filing fee along with court fees. If you cannot afford these costs, you can apply to have the fees waived.

For a free consultation, please call my office to schedule an appointment for a case evaluation. This typically takes 15-30 minutes. Call 954-533-7593 to schedule your free case evaluation today!