Normally, getting divorced in Texas requires one spouse and his or her lawyers to file a petition for divorce and the other spouse to respond to that petition. Yet there are times when divorce attorneys work with individuals who are seeking to terminate their marriage to a partner they cannot contact to serve divorce papers.
In such a case, divorce lawyers can assist the spouse with what is called a divorce by publication. After due diligence, if you are unable to locate your spouse, you should be able to end your marriage with the assistance of a divorce attorney.
What Is A Divorce By Publication?
Divorce by publication is the termination of a marriage that is finalized through the publication of a notice of divorce in a local newspaper or another approved publication. This method that is handled by experienced divorce attorneys on behalf of clients who cannot locate his or her spouse to serve divorce papers.
Yet as easy as this method may sound, lawyers warn that it can actually be challenging since it involves a good deal of research and requirements. If you have no other options, divorce by publication can eventually be granted by the family court.
Who May Petition for Divorce by Publication?
Divorce by publication is reserved only for circumstances when a spouse and their divorce lawyers are unable to serve a missing spouse with divorce papers after repeated attempts to contact them. This often happens because a partner moves and leaves no forwarding address or contact information.
In other cases, a missing spouse may be intentionally trying to hide from personal or legal issues. When the petitioning partner and his or her attorneys have made a good faith effort to locate the missing spouse to serve divorce papers, the courts will grant the termination after it has been announced publicly in a newspaper.
What are the First Steps?
Divorce by publication involves a bit of paperwork and research by the filing spouse and his or her divorce attorney. The filing partner must perform a thorough search for the missing spouse by:
- Contacting friends, family, and last known employers for information.
- Searching for any forwarding addresses that may have been filed.
- Conducting online research through various locator websites.
- Contacting military authorities and criminal justice departments to see if the spouse may be in prison.
If you are the petitioner and unable to locate your missing spouse, you and your lawyers must submit a notarized Affidavit for Citation by Publication and Diligent Search to the courts. This form states you have diligently attempted to locate your missing spouse. You must also submit other related documents including a Certificate of Last Known Address, a Service Members Affidavit, and a Statement of Evidence, all of which provide proof that you have made a genuine effort in your search.
Finalizing A Divorce by Publication
With court approval, a petitioning spouse must then have a notice printed in a local newspaper or other approved publication that states the intent to terminate the marriage. An agent of the publication sends in a Return of Citation as proof the notice was published. After thirty days, if divorce attorneys receive no response to the notice, a petitioning partner may then officially request a divorce hearing. At the hearing and upon satisfying the court’s requirement for a diligent search, a divorce by publication can be granted.
As most divorce lawyers will attest, divorce by publication can be a time-consuming and complex way to terminate a marriage. Yet when a spouse and their attorneys find no other way to proceed, it is at least an option. For your marriage ends using this method in Texas, you must be sure to fulfill any court requirements. Lawyers can help you ensure all required forms are correctly filed so you can request a hearing to finalize an absentee divorce from your spouse!
Reynaldo Garza, III
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520
Meetings With Attorneys By Appointment Only
1393 East Alton Floor Blvd, Suite 12
Brownsville TX 78526