• Tracy Duell-Cazes

Can you get divorced if you cannot locate your spouse?


It takes a little work, but ultimately, yes, you can get a divorce if you cannot locate your spouse. The first step is to do a diligent search for your spouse. This first step can take some time and effort. Different courts may have different rules with regard to what steps need to be taken to claim you have made a diligent search, however, some of the things you will need to do include, and are not limited to:

  • Search the phone books of the jurisdictions where your spouse is most likely living and where their last known address was. This includes checking the local white pages and contacting directory assistance.

  • Contacting people associated with your spouse, including family, friends, co-workers, business partners, landlords, and other known acquaintances.

  • Checking with the post office to see if they had set up a forwarding address.

  • Checking tax records, voter registrations, DMV records, and auto registrations.

  • Hiring a private investigator

After a diligent search has been completed and the proper forms have been filed with the court to show what steps you took in your search, you may apply for a Service by Publication.


"Service by publication" means that you publish the Summons or other document in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where your spouse or partner is likely to be. For service by publication, you will have to pay the newspaper a fee to publish the document. It will have to be published for 4 weeks in a row, at least once a week.(1)


While the publication requirement is completed 28 days after the first date of publication, if the summons has not been responded to, a Request to Enter Default and Default Judgment for the dissolution of marriage can be filed after the end of the 59th day after the first date of publication.


If approved, the divorce will become final after six months from the date the summons was first published.





1 – As defined on the California Courts Official Website.

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