Every so often a client who has lost contact with the spouse will come into the office seeking a divorce. What can that person do if there is no knowledge of where the spouse currently resides and there is no way to reach that spouse for the purposes of serving the necessary papers to get their case started?
If you cannot locate your spouse and wish to obtain a divorce, all hope is not lost, however certain steps need to be taken before the Court will grant you the relief that you seek.
First, a diligent search needs to be conducted to locate the spouse. Florida family law requires that you check with the Post Office, the spouse's last known employer, and the spouse's family members. Telephone listings, the Internet, the Department of Motor Vehicles, hospitals, utility companies, and other places of that nature must also be investigated.
Second, if a diligent search reveals no information, a notice by publication will need to be done. This means running the notice of the filing of your case in a newspaper in the county you are filing in at least once a week for four consecutive weeks. Running the notice by publication in the newspaper will act as "constructive service" on the spouse. If the spouse does not respond, then the Clerk and the Court will issue a "default" and grant the divorce and other relief you may be seeking.
This can be a complicated process and it is important to consult an expert Tampa Family Law Attorney to ensure that a diligent search is conducted through the help of an investigator and that all the other correct legal steps are taken to get you to a resolution as soon as possible.