Divorce lawyers near me, please help, my spouse disappeared?

As a family lawyer, it is not uncommon to hear complaints that people cannot locate their spouses. Sometimes people have been separated for many years or decades and lost track of where their spouse lives. Other times, spouses purposely flee the marriage and disappear or are evading the spouse for service of divorce papers. If you cannot locate your spouse, are you doomed to remain married forever?

The short answer is no. The New York courts allow for people to obtain “Default Divorces.” A default divorce is a “one-sided” divorce where one party requests the court grant them a divorce from a spouse they cannot locate. In New York, divorce papers, also called the “Summons” must be served personally, into the hand of the spouse. If you cannot find your spouse to place the summons in their hands, what are your options? You can search the web for “divorce lawyers near me” to find a local divorce attorney and consult with that attorney about your next steps.

The process is not quick or easy. The party must prove that they have completed a “due diligence” search, where you must prove to the court that you have used every method to locate your spouse. This could include but is not limited to searching for election records, calling and communicating with family and friends, paying for a “skip trace” report, publishing advertisements to newspapers, a social media search.

Another powerful research tool we have today is the internet. When I meet a new client, I ask them how they found our firm. Many say they simply went to Google and searched for “divorce lawyers near me” and our website came up. If they inform me that they lost track of their spouse, I always ask if they also tried searching for them online. A person may have a social media profile or even an address that may appear in the online search.

The court may also allow you to serve by “alternative service,” which means serving the summons by a different method- such as sending the summons to your spouse’s family member or emailing the summons. Recently a court allowed service by “Facebook” where it was proven the spouse was active on social media. If your spouse is hiding with family members, the court may grant a request to serve the family member, and will grant the default divorce after you submit your required paperwork.

If your spouse has disappeared or is purposely hiding, we can help you get a default divorce. Unlike your spouse, we are easy to find – just google “divorce lawyers near me” if you are located in New York City.