Sadly, it has been known to happen that one party, in an attempt to prevent a divorce in Massachusetts, simply disappears. If that happens, does that mean you're stuck, married until your husband or wife finally surfaces?
The first question you may be asking is why does it matter whether you can find your spouse or not? After all, you've already decided that you want to end the marriage, so who cares if your spouse is around?
The reason it matters is that our legal system requires that parties be notified when a legal proceeding that impacts them is taking place. This notification happens by serving the other party to the lawsuit with paperwork that explains what's being sought. This gives them the opportunity to protect their interests if they wish to do so.
Serving the other party in a divorce is usually straightforward, especially when you have a current address or know where the person works. What happens if you don't? Before moving to other options, such as service by publication, you will need to convince the court that you have made a diligent effort to locate your spouse. That means you may even need to hire an investigator to try and find the person, often starting where that person was last known to live.
If all that fails to turn up evidence of your spouse, you can seek permission from the Court to serve notice by publication. You will be required to file an affidavit with the court attesting to your efforts to locate your missing spouse.
Assuming the court is satisfied with your due diligence, it will allow you to publish notice of the divorce action in a newspaper in the city where your spouse was last known to reside. The notice will run in the newspaper for a specified period of time, after which notice will be considered served and the divorce action can proceed.
Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar either through email or telephone 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.