Posted by Gordon Shayne | Dec 26, 2023 | 0 Comments

But I cannot locate my spouse

Many years ago, I spoke to a woman who wanted advice on how she could get a divorce quickly. She told me that over 5 years had passed since she had last seen her husband. She said that the couple lived in Florida for 8 years, shared a home together and he worked while she was attending college. Her Husband left the U.S. to take job as a civilian contractor in the Middle East. After her Husband took the job and moved away, he would call once a week, then only one or two times a month and then his calls just stopped. The woman reached out to her Husband's employer and found out that he left the job over 6 weeks earlier. The former employer told the woman that his last check was cashed on the date he left and that they have had no contact with him since that time. All attempts, by email or cell phone, to reach out to her missing Husband proved fruitless. There was no contact with the man in any way and the woman had no idea where her Husband had gone. To complicate matters, the woman told me that 3 months prior to her Husband's relocation to the Middle East, she gave birth to their only child. With her Husband gone, the woman turned to her family for financial and emotional support, finished her education and established her career as she the sole parent in her child's life. As she wiped away her tears, she told me that all she has from the marriage are her memories and their beautiful child. 

What happens when......

The Divorce laws in the United States require notice and service of process on the other spouse in an initial filing of a new divorce case. Notice is a requirement in Florida, by way of the service of a Summons and the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage upon the other party. Proper notice requires “personal service.” This means that a sheriff's deputy or authorized process server must obtain personal service upon a party that complies with Florida law. In this way, the Florida court can exercise appropriate personal and subject matter jurisdiction. 

Is it also possible to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in Florida, when one of the parties has disappeared, abandoned the other party and children of the marriage and has failed to provide support. Since personal service can not be obtained in such situations, it may be necessary to serve the other party by “substitute service.”

Although substitute service is not ideal, it is a way for the filing party to obtain a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage when the parties have broken off contact and it becomes impossible for all court documents to be personally served.

To understand the technical nature of how to get a divorce when a spouse has disappeared, contact an experienced Family Law Attorney in Florida who can assist you and provide the legal advice you need.

About the Author

Gordon Shayne

Gordon N. Shayne Family Law / Divorce Lawyer Phone: (904) 544-6855 Gordon N. Shayne's field of practice is devoted to Family Law/Divorce case throughout the State of Florida


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With over 35 years of experience, Mr. Shayne has had a legal career fighting for the rights of his clients while focusing his practice exclusively on Divorce, Child Custody and other Family Law Matters. Our services are available throughout the State of Florida.

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