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Getting a divorce when an ex’s whereabouts are unknown

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2022 | Divorce

When the time comes to finalize a divorce, most people hope for a speedy resolution. However, some Maryland individuals face a unique challenge when it comes to signing the final paperwork: their ex is nowhere to be found. Whether the person has been gone for years or disappeared during the process of separation, this challenge can leave families in a difficult bind as they navigate what to do next. Here are some of the options available to those who find themselves in this tricky circumstance. 

Appeal to the spouse’s lawyer 

If a lawyer was involved during the separation, one of the first steps would be to contact that individual. The hope here would be for the lawyer pass the request on to his or her client. This may be most effective if the situation at hand is due to miscommunication or lack of knowledge of the other person’s whereabouts. If the ex disappeared for more malicious reasons, it is possible this solution may not work. 

Motion to serve by publication 

In Maryland, it is possible to go to a family court judge and ask for permission to serve papers by publicly posting them. While special permission is needed to invoke this, it can be a helpful avenue for those who find themselves in a bind with a missing spouse. A lawyer can advise whether this is a viable option in one’s particular case. 

Wait it out 

Depending on what’s at stake in the divorce, some people choose the path of least resistance in these cases. While waiting it out can be frustrating it may be the least stressful in some cases. In others, it may unfortunately be the only option. 

While an absentee spouse is an extremely frustrating situation, remedies do exist in certain cases. Even those who have been separated for many years may have good reasons to want a divorce from someone whose whereabouts are unknown, and there are ways to try to get this done. When determining which of these tactics to use or how to use them, an experienced family lawyer can be an invaluable resource.