Florida Divorce by Publication
Usually, a decision to divorce is known or even made by both spouses. Their ability to cooperate is the main factor in whether this process is easy and cheap or stressful and expensive. However, there are situations when only one person wants to end a marriage and has no way to communicate it to their spouse as they cannot be found. Are there any options for a missing spouse divorce in Florida?
Fortunately, yes. The absence of one spouse doesn’t mean that marriage dissolution is impossible to finalize. In this case, you may be able to file for divorce by publication.
What Is Divorce by Publication
In simple words, divorce by publication implies that an official notification of the spouse that the dissolution process has been initiated will be in the form of a newspaper publication. A process of service is a required step in a divorce, and normally, it is when the second party is handed over the paperwork to which they have to respond. However, in cases when a husband or wife is nowhere to be found, a petitioner makes a divorce announcement in a newspaper. This option is the “last resort,” and courts grant it only under special conditions.
Who Qualifies for Divorce by Publication?
Not everyone can qualify for a divorce through publication. It means that just saying that you don’t know where your spouse is would not be enough. You will need to receive permission from the court and provide it with the evidence you have done everything you could in order to find your husband or wife. This process includes several steps outlined below.
How to Get a Divorce by Publication
First of all, before publishing a divorce notice in a newspaper, you need to make sure that you have done everything in your power to locate your spouse. These are some but not necessarily all of the steps you might need to take in order to provide the judge with solid evidence:
- Recall and record the last time you have seen your spouse.
- You may try sending the paperwork to the spouse’s address both by regular and certified mail and see if there will be a return. Additionally, you may try visiting their home and asking neighbors or locals if they know anything.
- Visit or contact their workplace and family members, and ask whether they know anything about the location of your spouse.
- Search social media for any potential clues. You may also want to run the check on the following websites: Federal Bureau of Prisons, S. military locator, Social Security Death Index, and the Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Check the criminal records, phone directories, and public records in areas of the spouse’s potential residence.
Whatever you do to search for your spouse, keep a record of it. If the judge reviews the evidence and sees that your spouse indeed cannot be located, you will be able to start the process of service by publication in Florida:
- Search for all the divorce by publication formsand fill them out.
- File the paperwork with the court and wait until the court issues a Notice of Action. The waiting period is approximately 60 days.
- Publish the notice in court-approved newspapers, either one or two. It must be published for 28 days.
- If your spouse does not provide any response, you can ask the court to proceed with the case.
Divorce by Publication with Minor Children
You may be able to get a divorce with a missing spouse when you have minor children, but not child support. It is impossible as the location of that spouse is unknown, and so is their income.
When filing for a divorce with children, serving the second party is a mandatory step. If the parent is missing, the petitioner has to use all the available resources to locate them and serve the paperwork. It should be done even if your spouse has never been present in your children’s lives.
If you did all you could and still failed to find the spouse, then you can get a divorce notice by publication from the court. After that, you can publish your notice in a court-approved newspaper. If the other parent doesn’t notice it, they will be eligible to request a review of the case 2 years after the first one was finalized.
How Long Does Divorce by Publication Take?
Such marriage dissolution usually takes around 7-8 weeks. The reason for such a lengthy process is that it comprises several steps, and there may be delays in the process. First of all, you will need to wait for 60 days until you are allowed to make a publication. Secondly, the notice in the newspaper must be published for at least 28 days. After that, the divorce can be finalized.
How Much Does a Divorce by Publication Cost?
Divorce by publication is considered not only lengthier than a simple uncontested one but also more expensive. You will have to spend at least $500 on it. The publication itself may cost just under $100. To know for sure, get in touch with several newspapers approved by the court and ask about their rates for a 4-weeks publication. Apart from that, you should also pay a $408 filing fee along with court fees. If you cannot afford to cover it, you may try getting the fees waived.
Divorce by Publication Sample
Many people who are filing for a one-signature divorce are wondering what the newspaper divorce by publication sample looks like. It is rather short, only one page long, and includes only essential information that the second party should be notified of.
A judge may provide you with a notice to distribute to the newspapers, or you might be able to draft it using the court help center. Note that in case you cannot afford a newspaper publication, you might be able to run a notice in the courthouse.
Generally, a notice includes the respondent’s name, petitioner’s name, as well as the date until which the answer can be provided. There will also be a court name, city, and state where the Petition was filed.
We have created a system that helps you get all the necessary paperwork without a struggle. With an online divorce, all you need to pay is $139, irrespective of the number of forms needed for your case. Our questionnaire is designed to be simple and straightforward, even for those who do not have any legal background.
Michelle Walton is known as the divorce expert and content writer for flonlinedivorce.com. She is a regular contributor to Men’s Journal, and her articles about property division and child support custody can be seen on various divorce blogs. Michelle’s background in psychology and family law and her own experience with divorce make her equipped to write about various divorce-related topics professionally.