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In the family law world, it’s not uncommon for firms to hear stories of spouses who are ready for a divorce, but they cannot locate their ex to serve them with divorce papers. Though this most frequently happens in situations where a couple doesn’t have many assets to fight over, it can happen to anyone. This behavior has left many spouses stuck with leases they can’t afford, debts they can’t afford, and a host of other problems. If your ex has left you, and you can’t find them in order to divorce them, it’s important to know that you still have options to start moving forward.

File a Petition for Divorce

Even if you do not know the location of your spouse, you can still file a petition for divorce with the court. By doing this, you’re submitting yourself to the court’s jurisdiction. Once this is done, your spouse will need to be served the filed petition and summons. Service simply means that your spouse receives the documents in a way that can be verified. Usually, at this step, some form of negotiation begins, and mediation is scheduled. Assuming your spouse is involved in the process, this is the part where you begin to divide up your assets. After custody arrangements have been made, debt has been divided, and assets have been divided, the couple is ready to finalize their divorce. However, if you cannot find your spouse, the process looks a little different.

Serving Your Spouse

If you cannot locate your spouse, a process server may be able to assist you in serving the document. A process server will work with you on trying to determine where your spouse is located and serve them with divorce papers. However, if a process server is unable to locate your spouse, you may be able to serve them by publication. If you’ve attempted all other means of locating your spouse, you may ask the court to serve them by publication. When you serve your spouse by publication, you are announcing in the newspaper or an online forum that you have filed for divorce from your spouse. If your spouse still fails to respond to the petition, a default judgment may be entered. This means that the court will enter a Decree of Divorce based upon the requests as outlined in your petition for divorce.

When Your Spouse Ran off with Assets

In these kinds of cases, it isn’t uncommon for the spouse to run off with the credit card or the vehicle. If you notice that your spouse has taken a credit card, it would be appropriate to shut down the card down immediately. You can ask the court to award the debt to your spouse, especially if your spouse began to run up debt after you were already separated. Once a decree has been signed by the court, a copy can be sent to the bank in order to ensure that they do not report late payments to the credit bureaus. The same is also true for a car or other assets that have a loan payment or obligation. If your ex took the car, and you cannot locate it, you can ask the court to award the car and the debt associated with the car to your ex.

When Your Spouse Stole Your Stuff

There may be items of value that your spouse has taken. In these cases, you will have to decide whether or not it’s worth it to go after the items your spouse has in their possession. You may have to hire a private investigator in order to locate your spouse and the personal property. If your spouse no longer has the items they took, you may be out of luck. In that case it would be good to speak with an attorney about other options in recovering the personal property or the value of the property. When going through a divorce, most people want to get it over with as soon as possible. This usually means that they choose not to fight over items that don’t have substantial value.

When You Need Help Locating Your Ex

If you are unable to locate your spouse and need a divorce, you should speak with a divorce attorney today. Going through a divorce is difficult enough as it is. It’s even harder when you have an ex who cannot or will not cooperate with the divorce. In Utah, there are up to fourteen different documents you need to file before your divorce is finalized. And, failing to locate your spouse for a divorce only adds confusion to an already confusing process. If you need help filing your divorce, contact CoilLaw today.


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