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If I Cannot Locate my Spouse, Can I File for Divorce?

Posted in Divorce, Family Law on Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

Divorce is plenty difficult enough without the added complication of not being able to locate your spouse. If you can’t even find your spouse in order to serve him or her, it leaves you in the lurch. The fact is, however, that you can file for divorce even if your spouse is nowhere to be found, and an Illinois divorce attorney can help you do just that. 

Giving Legal Notice

In every divorce case, the spouse who files for divorce must serve the divorce petition to the other spouse. There are a variety of ways to serve the spouse you are divorcing, and this service provides him or her with legal notice of your divorce filing. If your spouse is in the wind, however, and cannot be found (including if he or she has been deported), you can ask the court for a workaround. 

Service by Publication

The judge in your case can allow service by publication, which amounts to publishing a notice in the local newspaper, and the circuit clerk in the county in which you file can provide you with information about the correct newspaper to publish in. Before you turn to service by publication, the judge will require that you make a good faith effort to find your missing spouse, and such efforts should include all of the following:

  • Attempting to serve your spouse at his or her last known address
  • Attempting to contact your spouse at his or her last known employer
  • Enquiring about your spouse’s whereabouts from his or her family members, friends, and other social contacts
  • Searching for your spouse online, including on social network platforms and other databases (such as the military database)
  • If it is safe for you to do so, attempting to contact your spouse via phone, text, email, social media messaging, or any other means available to you

It’s important to keep careful track of your attempts to locate your spouse because you will need your records to convince the court that you have exhausted your options related to finding your spouse. If the judge is not convinced that you’ve put in adequate effort, he or she may refuse to allow service by publication. 

The Granting of Divorce

If your spouse hasn’t shown up by the time your divorce is ultimately finalized, the court won’t be able to rule on the following terms:

  • The division of your marital property (other than your personal property)
  • The division of any property outside of Illinois
  • Alimony (also known as spousal support)
  • Child support
  • Parenting time (if your children live with you, however, the judge can award you custody)

If your spouse eventually turns up, you can return to court to have any remaining terms resolved. 

Seek the Professional Legal Guidance of an Experienced Illinois Divorce Attorney Today

If you are divorcing but cannot find your spouse, the accomplished Illinois divorce attorneys at Sabuco Beck, PC have the experience, legal skill, and dedication to service to help guide your complicated case toward a beneficial resolution. To learn more, please don’t wait to contact us today. 

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