Starting divorce proceedings can be rather simple. You retain a Family Law Attorney who files your divorce papers. Your attorney then hires a process server to serve your divorce papers by hand-delivery to your spouse.
Once served, your spouse is considered “on notice” of the divorce and it’s only a matter of time before the Court will grant your dissolution of marriage.
How to Divorce a Spouse You Can’t Find
Take Angela, for example. Angela married Chris, an artist, a few years ago in Fort Lauderdale. Unfortunately, their marriage fell apart after 2 years and Chris said he was moving out. Chris packed up his belongings and art supplies, put them in his car, and left. Angela hasn’t heard from Chris in a year and she has no idea if he lives in Florida or not. Angela even tried to find out if he was selling his art at any shows in Florida but had no luck. Angela is now engaged to a new man and she wants to marry him this year.
Angela needs a divorce, ASAP.
While it may not be the simplest process, Florida Family Law allows Angela to go forward with a divorce by serving Chris and putting him “on notice” through the process of constructive service.
Here’s how it works.
First, Angela must file for divorce just like anyone else would in Florida.
Second, Angela must file an Affidavit swearing and affirming that she does not know Chris’ residence, that she has tried to search for Chris, and she has been unable to find any address to serve Chris with the divorce papers.
Third, the Family Law Court must then enter an Order determining that Angela has tried to find Chris, or his residence, or any address to serve him. So long as the Family Law Court finds that Angela has diligently searched for Chris and come up short, Angela will be allowed to move forward with her divorce by “constructive service” upon Chris.
So, what is constructive service?
It is when the Florida Family Clerk of Court publishes a notice of your divorce action in one of several manners depending on the County in which you file your divorce. If you file for divorce in a county with a local newspaper, the Florida Family Clerk of Court will publish the notice of your divorce action in the local newspaper once every week for four weeks.
If there is no local newspaper in the County in which you file for divorce, then the Florida Family Clerk of Court will place the notice of your divorce action in several locations around the courthouse including the door of the county courthouse for 30 days.
Now back to Angela. After the Florida Family Clerk of Court publishes her notice of divorce action for the required period and assuming Chris does not come forward, the Court will set a final hearing granting Angela’s divorce and she will be ready to wed again in no time.