Divorcing in Florida When Whereabouts of Spouse in Unknown

The end of a marriage is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life.  A divorce can lead to feelings of anger, guilt, grief, anxiety and other intense feelings.  In most divorces, couples, or their lawyers, will discuss and work out the terms of the divorce.  What happens, though, if one partner in a divorce has left and his spouse has no idea where he is?  Can a divorce still be granted?

In Florida, one party in a divorce needs to have resided in Florida six months or more prior to filing for divorce.  If a spouse has met this requirement and does not know where the other spouse is, he or she can still file for divorce.  There are a few differences in filing for divorce when a spouse’s location is unknown.  Since the spouse filing for divorce does not know her or his partner’s address, an affidavit with the court will need to be filed, and she will have to swear in court that he or she has searched for and was unable to find her or his partner.

After this affidavit has been filed, the spouse desiring the divorce then needs to publish in a local newspaper for a certain amount of time that he or she is divorcing his or her spouse and that the spouse has to respond by a certain date.  Once the publication has run for the designated time and no response was received by the missing spouse, the partner seeking the divorce will need to file with the court a Motion for Clerk’s Default.  In this motion, the court clerk will review the file, the deadline, and verify that the missing spouse did not respond or file any documents with the court, and that the missing spouse is in default of the petition for divorce.

After this step is taken care of, then the divorcing spouse will have a hearing before a judge and explain why the marriage is over and what she or he expects as a result of the divorce.  The judge will then, based on the evidence and testimony presented at the hearing, make a ruling about the divorce.

Divorcing a missing spouse is a complicated process.  There are many steps to be taken before the divorce is finalized.  It is important to retain knowledgeable legal counsel to pursue the best possible outcome on behalf of your divorce case.

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