How a Divorce by Publication Can Help You If Your Spouse Is Missing

Wedding Ring and Divorce PaperworkIf you decide that you want to file a divorce but cannot locate your spouse, this does not mean that you must remain married to them. You may qualify for a divorce by publication. Here is how this type of divorce works in Virginia.

Requirements for a Divorce by Publication

In order to obtain a divorce in our commonwealth, you must have legal grounds for a divorce. If you can establish these requirements, you may be able to obtain a divorce by publication if you no longer know where your spouse lives to serve them with the divorce papers. Here is what you must establish for this type of divorce:

  • Residency. You must be a Virginia resident and have lived here for at least six months.
  • Separation. You must have been separated from your spouse for the required amount of time, which is usually one year.
  • Unable to locate spouse. You will need to show that you do not know where your spouse currently resides and used due diligence, such as attempting to call, text, or email, to find them. You would need to sign an affidavit that documents your attempts to locate them and states the last known address you have for your spouse.

How a Divorce by Publication Works

You would file your affidavit and order for publication with your complaint for divorce. If the court clerk determines that you have met the requirements for this type of divorce, they would provide the signed order of publication to the newspaper used for this purpose in your county. The newspaper would include the order of publication in the newspaper for four successive weeks.

The clerk would also post the order of publication at the court’s front door and mail a copy of the order to your spouse’s last known address. Once the newspaper has run the order for four consecutive weeks, they would provide a certificate of publication. You could file it with the final judgment of divorce to finalize the process of obtaining a divorce.

If you want to file for divorce but do not know where your spouse resides, you need the help of an experienced family law attorney to meet the strict requirements for a divorce by publication. To learn how we can assist you, call our Norfolk office to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.


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