When a person files for a divorce in Massachusetts—either a no fault or a fault-based divorce—he or she must make the divorce known to the individual from whom separation is sought. If only one spouse is filing, the filing spouse must inform his or her spouse that s/he has filed for divorce by serving his/her spouse with a copy of the complaint and summons. Usually, these papers can be served by in person, by a process server, or by the local sheriff.
However, in some cases, a person who wishes to get a divorce cannot find their spouse, and therefore cannot serve them with papers. When this is the case, a divorce by publication is possible. A Massachusetts divorce attorney can help you file your divorce by publication if you cannot locate your spouse.
Conducting a Thorough Search for a Missing Spouse
In many other states, a spouse must conduct a thorough search to the best of his or her abilities—and sign an affidavit declaring so—before divorce by publication is allowed. This is also true in Massachusetts; a person must conduct a diligent search before a divorce by publication will be allowed, as found in Domestic Relations Procedure Rule 4: Process(d)(3). After a spouse has tried to find his or her spouse, in order to serve him or her with the notice of divorce, and has exhausted all possible avenues, then he or she is legally allowed to move forward with the divorce by publication in a local newspaper.
Publishing Your Notice of Divorce
A divorce by publication is exactly that; you will publish your notice of divorce within the local newspaper. The notice of divorce must be published for at least three consecutive weeks. After the three-week timeframe has expired, your lawsuit against your spouse for divorce can proceed. At this point, a default divorce will be granted. If you spouse fights the decision within the required time frame, the divorce will be invalidated; otherwise, the divorce will be finalized. Because a divorce by publication is a contested divorce, a judge will not make a determination about certain issues within the divorce, such as child support, alimony, property distribution etc. If your spouse is later found, then these issues can be settled in court.
How a Massachusetts Attorney Can Help You When Filing a Divorce By Publication
Being unable to locate a missing spouse to serve him or her with divorce papers can be frustrating. What’s more, knowing what to do next—and how to ensure that all proper legal protocols are followed—can be confusing. To guide you throughout every step of filing for a divorce or divorce by publication, a Massachusetts divorce attorney is an ideal resource. The skilled attorneys at The Law Offices of Attorney Michael F. Mimno, Family Law Specialist, are ready to meet with you today. You can call us for answers to all of your divorce questions at either 978-470-4567 or 603-479-1152.