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Can I Get a Divorce if My Spouse Abandons Me and Doesn’t Provide Me With an Updated Address?


Yes, in most cases you can obtain a divorce. However, it is not an easy process.

Sometimes parties may have been separated for many years for a variety of different reasons. A spouse may have returned to their home state or country and others may have separated for reasons of domestic violence and have not seen or had contact with their spouse for several years.

While we can assist you in filing for divorce in Tampa, Fl and requesting alimony, child support, attorney’s fees and costs as well as equitable distribution, a preliminary step requires that your spouse be served with your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, even when he or she has disappeared, before the court can enter a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.

If you are unable to locate your spouse, he or she will have to be served by constructive service of process or service by publication (i.e service in your local newspaper). However, before you can serve your spouse by constructive service, the Florida Courts require that you prove that you have looked diligently for your spouse.

How do you prove that you have searched for your spouse?
The State of Florida has a special form called – an Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry. The form asks you to check off exactly what methods you used to try to find your spouse. This includes exhausting these search methods in the state of your spouse’s last known address:

  • Inquire with the United States Post Office
  • Last known employment
  • Unions that your spouse may be affiliated with
  • Regulatory agencies
  • Relatives
  • Death records
  • Telephone listings
  • Internet people finder sites
  • Law enforcement arrests or criminal records
  • Highway patrol records
  • Department of motor vehicle records
  • Department of corrections records
  • Child support enforcement agency records
  • Hospitals
  • Utility companies (water, sewer, cable and electric)
  • Armed forces
  • Tax assessor’s and tax collector’s offices.

Once you have made a diligent search and inquiry as to your spouse’s whereabouts, you will have to file an Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry with your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The Clerk of Court will enter a Notice of Action for Dissolution of Marriage and provide a copy of this document to your local newspaper. Your local newspaper will publish the Notice of Action for Dissolution of Marriage for four consecutive weeks.

After the four consecutive weeks of publication in your local newspaper, your spouse may file a responsive pleading. If not, you can file a Motion for Default and request that the Clerk of Court enter a Default against your spouse for failure to file a responsive pleading. Once a Default has been entered against your spouse, your Tampa divorce attorney can set your case for a final hearing before the Hillsborough marital and family law judge assigned to your case so that you can finalize your divorce.

Do you need to divorce a spouse that abandoned you or you cannot locate? While this process is not easy, it is possible and can be achieved with a knowledgeable Tampa divorce attorney.

With 19 years of experience practicing family law, The Law Offices of Patricia Palma, P.A. offers high-quality legal counsel in all Tampa, FL family law matters. If you have questions regarding divorce in Tampa, FL contact a knowledgeable Tampa divorce attorney with The Law Offices of Patricia Palma, P.A. at 813-258-3211 or contact us online to schedule a meeting at our Tampa office.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.


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