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Getting A Divorce With A Missing Spouse

Sometimes individuals take matters into their own hands when it comes to divorcing their spouse. Rather than follow the process of the courts, and legally obtaining a divorce, these individuals may decide to abandon their spouse by either moving away, or attempting to remain hidden. A deserting or abandoning spouse makes proceeding with a divorce considerably more difficult than a traditional divorce. Having no contact with the other party or not knowing where they live can make things difficult when it comes to sending papers to an ex-spouse or finalizing a judge’s decree.

Can I still get a divorce if I don’t know where my spouse is?

Fortunately, South Carolina law allows individuals who cannot locate their spouse to still obtain a divorce if they follow proper requirements. Officially, this is known as desertion. Desertion is one of a few exceptions of fault based divorce. Desertion occurs when one spouse leaves the other for at least a year with the intent to retain or to continue living with their former spouse. While the law allows it, it is a more rare divorce ground in South Carolina because individuals can also file for a divorce based on a one year continuous separation.

How do I contact my spouse when they don’t want to be contacted?

In a divorce proceeding where an individual knows where their spouse is a divorce can be started by serving divorce papers on that individual. This process becomes more difficult when the spouse who wants a divorce does not know where their spouse has moved to. In some circumstances, South Carolina law allows something known as service by publication. Service by publication can be used if you do not know where someone lives or are unable to deliver divorce papers by another method.

What is service by publication?

Service by publication means that a notice will be posted in a widely circulating newspaper, such as the Post and Courier or the Aiken Standard, and this notice serves the purpose of informing your spouse of the divorce proceedings. Courts in South Carolina only allow service by publication if you have attempted getting the papers to your spouse through all three of the following methods (1) Certified Mail Restricted Delivery (2) personal delivery by a private process server to the last known address and (3) personal delivery by a County Sheriff. Compiling with all three of these methods accomplishes what is known as due diligence. Once, due diligence is accomplished, the court will allow service by publication if your attorney makes a motion.

Do you want a divorce but cannot locate your spouse?

Our team is trained in dealing with finding spouses who have gone missing. If our team cannot find your missing spouse, we are ready to help you accomplish your due diligence and are prepared to serve divorce papers on your spouse by publication. At Surasky Law Firm, LLC we can help you at all steps of the process. Contact us today and we can help.

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