Divorce When Spouse is Missing

Trying to get a divorce when one's spouse has gone missing certainly complicates the situation. As the saying goes, "it takes two to tango." Therefore, for a general dissolution of marriage in Florida, you usually need both parties.

Florida law, however, provides a remedy for a person who desires a divorce, but cannot find his or her spouse. The most common issue with a missing spouse is the petitioner no longer knows where the respondent lives.

In these situations, Florida courts allow for parties to dissolve their marriage by filing a petition for divorce by publication, also known as constructive service.

Attorney for Divorce by Publication in Fort Lauderdale, FL

If you or someone you know wants to get a divorce, but they cannot find their spouse, call Bacchus & Navarro Law Group. Our office can aid you in the process of dissolving your marriage even if the other spouse is missing.

We have represented clients for years in many types of family law matters, from negotiating prenuptial agreements to child custody time-sharing agreements, and divorce cases.

Our office is conveniently located at 401 E. Las Olas Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale, just minutes from Broward County Central Courthouse and we have taken cases in Miami, West Palm Beach, LaBelle, and East Naples, Florida.

Contact our office at (954) 500-5555 for a free no-obligations consultation.


Overview of Divorce When Spouse is Missing in Broward County


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How to Divorce a Missing Spouse

In order for a court to grant a dissolution of marriage by publication, the court has to find that the petitioner tried very hard to search for the missing spouse.

When filing for divorce, the petitioner will have to file a Notice of Action for Dissolution of Marriage; an Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry; and information concerning how you performed a diligent search, and a list of the internet resources for conducting that search, if any.


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Examples of a "Diligent Search and Inquiry"

The Florida courts have provided a few examples of what may qualify as a diligent search and inquiry sufficient to be granted a dissolution of marriage with a missing spouse. The following list is not exclusive. There are other actions sufficient to constitute a diligent search. A diligent search may include the following:

  • searching the phone directories of the cities and towns of the respondent's possible residences;
  • asking the U.S. Postmaster in cities of respondent's previously known residences for forwarding addresses under the FOIA act;
  • searching the public records of the tax collector and assessor;
  • inquiring of persons in the neighborhoods where the respondent formerly lived;
  • asking utility companies, including water, sewer, cable, TV, and electric, in areas of likely residence;
  • searching the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle records;
  • contacting the respondent's last known employer –asking about any addresses to which W-2 forms were mailed or where any pension or profit sharing plans were mailed;
  • inquiring of regulatory agencies, including licensing agencies;
  • gathering the names and addresses of the respondent's relatives and contacts with those relatives and ask them all for any information that may lead to finding the respondent;
  • inquiring with law enforcement agencies at the respondent's last known residential area;
  • inquiring at hospitals in the respondent's last known living area;
  • using private investigation agencies or similar 'skip tracing' services;
  • searching the Internet using search sites;
  • writing letters to the Armed Forces of the U.S. asking whether or not they have any information on the respondent.

The petitioner should follow all leads that he or she is able to obtain and list all efforts and actions taken to locate the respondent in the affidavit.


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Additional Resources

Self-Service Form – Visit the Clerk of the Courts of the 17th Circuit for more information about filing for divorce as a pro se litigant.

Florida Department of Corrections – Visit the Florida Department of Corrections for more information on locating prisoners in the Florida prison system to inquire after whether the spouse has been detained by Florida law enforcement.

Fla. Stat. § 61.052 – Visit Online Sunshine, the official website of the Florida Legislature for more information about the Florida dissolution of marriage statute. Find information on the statutory requirements for dissolving a marriage under Florida jurisdiction.


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Find a Lawyer for Divorce by Publication in Broward County, FL

If you or someone you know is missing their spouse and now wants a divorce, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Bacchus & Navarro Law Group. Our lawyers are zealous advocates and will fight for the rights of those who have been affected by spousal disappearance.

We have years of experience representing clients in multiple family law matters, including child custody, time-sharing agreements, and other child support matters. We take cases throughout the Miami-metropolitan area in counties like Collier County, Broward County, Hendry County, Palm Beach County, and Miami-Dade County, FL.

Call (954) 500-5555 now for more information.

This Article Was Last Updated Thursday, June 1, 2017.


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