When people envision the divorce process, they often think about “the talk” – that uncomfortable discussion they have with their spouse that gets the ball rolling. They think about dividing up their belongings, perhaps fighting over who gets to keep the house. They prepare for how to tell their kids, and how to live life along after being married. What they don’t tend to consider is the fact that in order to get divorced, you have to serve your spouse with divorce papers.
What do I do if I can’t find my spouse?
For couples living together, or separated but still communicating, this may be slightly awkward. But uncomfortable isn’t the same thing as impossible. If you know where your spouse is, and have a way to get hold of them, serving them with divorce papers is a relatively simple process. If you can’t find your spouse, however, serving them can be a very tricky process!
The court requires that you make an effort to find them.
It’s important to realize that “I don’t know where they live.” isn’t good enough at the start. You will be required to make a good faith effort to find them, which the law describes as a “diligent effort.” In Michigan, this means you need to do the following:
- Search the phonebook and directory assistance in the area where they live;
- Search the phonebook and directory assistance in the area where your missing spouse is last known to have lived;
- asking friends and relatives who know where the missing spouse might be;
- Checking the post office where they last lived for information about a forwarding address;
- Checking tax and property assessor records to see if they own property;
- Contacting the Michigan Secretary of State for auto registrations;
- Contacting landlords and prior employers;
- Checking with the registrar of voters;
Although the law doesn’t include any mention of online sources and social media, your attorney will likely encourage you to search online for your spouse as well. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are goldmines of information when it comes to searching for someone.
How do you prove to the court that you searched diligently?
According to Michigan law, “Service by publication is only available when the Respondent’s whereabouts is unknown, in spite of diligent effort by the petitioner to find the respondent’s address.” This means that if you want to proceed with your divorce, even though you weren’t able to find your spouse, you need to prove that you made a diligent effort to find them.
To prove this, you have to fill out and submit to the court an Affidavit of Diligent Search. This document clearly outlines all of the actions you’ve taken to locate your spouse. It proves to the court that you made every effort to find them, and despite your best efforts, you still weren’t able to.
A good divorce lawyer makes all the difference!
Join us next time to see what happens next. Until then, if you have questions about the divorce process, or are considering ending your marriage, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245. Our skilled family law attorneys can help you with every aspect of the process, including spousal support, child custody, and even paternity concerns. We’re here to help you move forward.