Can I Get a Divorce if My Spouse has Fled the Country?

Can I Get a Divorce if My Spouse has Fled the Country?

The legal process of getting a divorce becomes much more tricky if your spouse has fled the country. It is even more difficult if you have no idea where your spouse is. However, these things happen. Even in the face of the unexpected, you deserve to move on and achieve closure.

When you work with a qualified attorney, you can deal with these troublesome issues in anefficient, dignified manner. Even if your spouse seems to have vanished from the face of the Earth, an experienced legal expert can help you navigate the divorce process so that you can officially end your marriage and take your next steps as soon as possible.

Service Through Publication

Even if you are sure that you cannot locate your spouse, you still need to go through all the necessary steps to try and track them down. Usually, this involves communicating with the Sheriff’s Office and asking them to try their last known address. If the Sheriff’s Office still cannot find your spouse, you can try another method called service through publication.

To understand what service by publication means, it is important to recognize the importance of serving the divorce papers. When your spouse is served with the divorce papers, they are informed that you intend to end the marriage. In most cases, this is the only legal way to end the divorce.

Of course, serving divorce papers is difficult when you have no idea where they are. Fortunately, Massachusetts state law gives you another option called service through publication. Essentially, this means that you publish your divorce papers in a newspaper (or some other publication that can be easily viewed by anyone). Although there may be a fee involved with this process, it is sometimes the only way in which to move forward with your divorce.

Spousal Abandonment

Spousal Abandonment also comes into play when you are trying to obtain a divorce in Massachusetts. According to state law, “utter desertion” is grounds for divorce. In other words, if your spouse has completely abandoned you with no hope of ever contacting them, you can obtain a divorce. This type of divorce would be classified as a “fault-based” divorce, which means the judge is obliged to hear allegations and testimony from both spouses. If your spouse cannot belocated, then the judge will simply consider your side of the story.

The Desertion Standard

The only downside is the so-called “desertion standard,” which states that your spouse must be absent from your home for at least one year before you file for divorce on the grounds of utter desertion. In addition, you will need to prove to the court that you did everything possible to locate your spouse. If many years have passed since you have last seen your spouse, then the court may assume that the missing person is deceased. In this case, you may be granted a default divorce.

Getting Legal Help

If you want to achieve closure and wrap up your divorce as quickly as possible, reach out to the Law Offices of Johnson, Sclafani & Moriarty today. We will help you  take the necessary steps to end your marriage.