Sometimes, at the end of a marriage, one spouse moves out of the house, never to be seen again. When this happens, can a divorce still be granted?
Divorces are a form of lawsuits. In order to complete a lawsuit in California, the other party must be provided legal notice of the proceedings through a summons.
In the case of divorce in California, the summons must be personally served. Typically, this is accomplished when a process server or law enforcement officer personally delivers a copy of the summons to the defendant. However, personal service is ineffective when a defendant cannot be located.
When a defendant cannot or will not be located, California law provides for alternative means of service. California courts authorize service by an alternative method when a party demonstrates that a diligent search has occurred. Every court in California is slightly different in what they require, but most require finding the last known address of the defendant, call the other side’s family and friends, look for the other side in a phone book, and search on the internet.
When personal service is impossible or impracticable due to a missing party, a judge can authorize service in such “a manner as the court directs.” This gives judges broad discretion in authorizing service in a number of ways, including service by publication, and service via social media.
It is important to remember that a judge must always approve alternate methods of service in order to constitute valid service. An inability to locate a former spouse will not ultimately prevent you from obtaining a divorce, no matter where you spouse has chosen to hide out. If your former spouse cannot be located, and you are seeking a divorce, speak with a divorce attorney at our firm to find out if an alternate method of service may help you!