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Can You Divorce a Missing Spouse?

Can You Divorce a Missing Spouse?

Are you ready to file for divorce and move on with your life? If so, the process seems straightforward.

However, what if you cannot find your spouse? Can you still move forward with a divorce in Maryland?

The short answer is “yes.”

In Maryland, the law allows you to request an Order of Default. The condition to receiving this is that you make a good faith effort to locate and serve your spouse with the divorce complaint. The court will then allow you to serve your spouse by alternative mechanism.

At Brodsky Renehan Pearlstein & Bouquet, our experienced Maryland family law attorneys can help you navigate this process. They will work with you to ensure you meet all requirements to file for a divorce, even if your spouse is missing.

Understanding the Legal Framework

The State of Maryland provides ways for individuals to pursue a divorce even when one spouse is not present or cannot be located. This process is legally recognized and ensures that the rights of the individual seeking the divorce are respected while also adhering to due process for the missing spouse.

The key to navigating this situation effectively lies in understanding Maryland’s family law statutes and the procedures that must be followed.

Filing for Divorce with a Missing Spouse

Initiating a divorce in Maryland when your spouse is missing involves several critical steps.

The first is to file a complaint for divorce with the court, just as you would in any divorce proceeding. However, the challenge arises when you must serve the divorce papers to your spouse, a fundamental legal requirement to ensure fairness and due process.

Service by Publication

When a spouse cannot be located after diligent efforts, a request must be made of the court to allow you to serve your spouse by an alternative method. This may include  service by publication. This process involves publishing a notice of the divorce action in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where your spouse was last known to reside.

The notice must run for a specified period, publicly announcing the divorce proceedings. This method serves as a last resort to notify the missing spouse, fulfilling the legal requirement for service of process.

The Court may also allow for service by email or mailing to a last known address. Once your spouse is “served” you may proceed in court by requesting an order of default and the right to proceed without your spouse’s invovlement.

The Role of a Maryland Family Law Attorney

Given the complexities and legal nuances involved in divorcing a missing spouse, the guidance of a Maryland family law attorney becomes invaluable. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the process by:

  • Conducting a Diligent Search: Your attorney can assist in thoroughly searching for your spouse, utilizing various resources and methods to meet the legal standard of diligence required by the court.
  • Filing the Necessary Documentation: Preparing and filing the complaint for divorce and the required documentation for service by publication can be complex. An attorney ensures that all paperwork is accurately completed and filed in accordance with Maryland law.
  • Advising on Legal Requirements: Understanding the specific legal requirements for service by publication, including the content, timing, and frequency of the newspaper notice, is crucial. Your attorney can provide expert advice on these matters, ensuring compliance with the law.
  • Representing Your Interests: In your absence, an attorney can represent your interests in court, advocating on your behalf and ensuring your rights are protected throughout the divorce proceedings.

Navigating the Emotional and Legal Journey

Divorcing a missing spouse is not only a legal challenge but also an emotional journey. At Brodsky Renehan Pearlstein & Bouquet, we understand the unique stresses and uncertainties you may be facing.

Our Maryland family law attorney is committed to providing compassionate support and expert guidance to help you navigate this difficult time. Whether it’s conducting a diligent search for your spouse, navigating the legal intricacies of service by publication, or advocating for your rights and interests in court, we are here to assist you every step of the way.

Divorce in Maryland can be a complex process, especially when one spouse is missing. However, with the right legal guidance and support, it is possible to navigate this challenging situation successfully.

Contact us today to schedule a confidential family law case evaluation.


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