How to Get a Divorce If the Spouse Disappears

Updated July 19, 2017

Getting a divorce can be difficult enough when you have a willing spouse. Trying to get a divorce from a missing spouse is a little tougher. Most people know where their spouses are, but some couples get separated and lose touch before a divorce occurs. It is important to know that it is still possible to get a divorce from your missing spouse and move on with your life.

Go to the county courthouse, obtain the petition for divorce packet and complete it to the best of your ability. Check the website of the clerk of court for your county. Sometimes, blank divorce petitions are available to download for free. You will need to complete this paperwork to get a divorce.

Use every resource you have to try to locate your spouse. Call all friends and relatives and let them know you are searching for your missing spouse. Contact your spouse's last known employer. You can also try using the Freedom of Information Act to request that the U.S. Post Office give you your spouse's last known address.

Petition the court to allow you to serve your spouse the divorce petition via service by publication. This requires you to place a notice about the divorce in a newspaper for a set amount of time. Most states require the ad to run for at least 30 days.

File an affidavit with the clerk of courts certifying that you have used every available resource to try to locate your spouse. You will also need to file proof that you have placed the ad for the required amount of time before you can get a divorce.

Wait for the case to proceed. After the court has received all required documents, the case will continue. The divorce will probably take at least three months to become final.


Consult with an attorney before proceeding, to make sure you understand your state's requirements for divorcing a missing spouse.


A divorce granted using service of publication is a divorce only. Child custody, child support and asset division will not be addressed if the spouse cannot be found.

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About the Author

Virginia Vickery is a full time freelance writer located in Southern Ohio. Before turning to freelance writing, she worked in the mortgage and insurance fields for 8 years. She has an Associate degree in business and is currently pursuing her nursing degree.