Many times a client will come into their Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer’s office and not know where there spouse is currently residing or located. Sometimes parties may have been separated for many years for a variety of reasons. A spouse may have returned to their home state or country. Others separated at the beginning of a marriage for reasons of domestic violence and have not seen their spouse in twenty years.
While your Broward marital and family lawyer can assist you in filing for divorce and requesting alimony, child support, attorney’s fees and costs as well as equitable distribution, a preliminary step requires that your spouse be served with your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, even when he or she has disappeared, before the court can enter a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.
If you are unable to locate your spouse, he or she will have to be served by constructive service of process or service by publication (i.e service in your local newspaper). You must first make a diligent search and inquiry with the United States Post Office, last known employment, unions that your spouse may be affiliated with, regulatory agencies, relatives, death records, telephone listings, internet people finder sites, law enforcement arrest or criminal records and highway patrol records in the state of your spouse’s last known address. In addition, you should also check the department of motor vehicle records, department of corrections records, child support enforcement agency records, hospitals in the last known area of your spouse’s residence, utility companies (water, sewer, cable and electric), the armed forces and the tax assessor’s and tax collector’s offices.
Once you have made a diligent search and inquiry as to your spouse’s whereabouts, you will have to file an Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry with your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The Clerk of Court will enter a Notice of Action for Dissolution of Marriage and provide a copy of this document to your local newspaper such as The Daily Business Review. Your local newspaper will publish the Notice of Action for Dissolution of Marriage for four consecutive weeks.
After the four consecutive weeks of publication in your local newspaper, your spouse may file a responsive pleading. If not, you can file a Motion for Default and request that the Clerk of Court enter a Default against your spouse for failure to file a responsive pleading. Once a Default has been entered against your spouse, your Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney can set your case for a final hearing before the Broward marital and family law judge assigned to your case so that you can finally be divorced.