Welcome back and thanks for joining The Kronzek Firm for this discussion on what to do if you can’t find your spouse to serve them with Michigan divorce papers. As we mentioned in the previous article, it may seem like a strange problem – to have lost track of one’s spouse, but it actually happens quite often. Spouses separate and go their separate ways, and then years (sometimes decades) later, when they decide to formalize the divorce, they struggle to locate each other.
What if I search everywhere and I still can’t find them?
Once you’ve tried looking in all of the places listed by the Oakland County Family Court, including checking with friends and family members, tax and property assessor records, landlords and prior employers, and searched online, including social media, what happens if you still can’t find them? Does that mean you can’t get divorced? No it doesn’t. There are alternatives available to you.
Our family law attorneys often recommend hiring the Oakland County Sheriff’s office to serve your divorce papers because they are experienced and credible. Judge’s tend to believe the sheriff’s deputies when they report being unable to service divorce papers. If they cannot get them served, the divorce lawyers in our Oakland County office move on to the next step.
If you, we and the sheriff have made every effort to find your spouse with no results, we will need to fill out and submit a Motion and Verification for Alternative Service. This tells the court exactly what efforts have been made to find your spouse, and also asks permission to serve the papers by some alternate method. We document for the judge which steps we’ve already tried and we make a request to publish a notice of divorce in a newspaper.
What is a notice of divorce in Michigan?
If the Oakland County Family Court approves our Motion and Verification for Alternative Service, we have two choices moving forward. The first options is that we prepare an Order for Alternative Service. The other option is that you can prepare an Order for Service by Publication/Posting and Notice of Action.
Order for Alternative Service:
This order, which requires proof of the alternate service, is used if you want to serve divorce papers to a missing spouse by any / all of the following methods, which are are in the judge’s discretion:
- Sending it to them via first class mail,
- Tacking it firmly to their door, or
- Delivering it to a responsible member of the household.
Order of Notice by Publication:
This is a formal statement, published in the newspaper, or posted in the courthouse, stating that you have filed for divorce and directed to your spouse. The notice must be run for 21 days, so that your spouse has enough time to see it and respond. Your spouse is legally required to respond to the notice if they do not see it.
What do I do if they don’t respond to the notice?
It does happen. Sometimes a person moves away and doesn’t keep in contact with their former social circle in the Detroit area. Maybe they don’t read the paper, or they do, but not the paper you published the notice in. Perhaps they moved away, out of state or even abroad, and have no contact with their former life. Either way, if you can’t find your spouse, and they don’t respond to the notice, your divorce will proceed as an uncontested divorce by default.
At this point, the Oakland County Family Court can grant you a divorce. If the missing spouse is ‘defaulted’, we file a motion for default judgement with regard to the issues of child custody, separation of property, and child or spousal support. The Judge will review the motion for fairness and equality, and if everything is deemed to be in order, the final Judgement of Divorce can be entered at the hearing.
Be sure to have a good Oakland County divorce attorney helping you!
Although this type of situation doesn’t happen all that often, when it does, it can leave you without the closure you need to move on. Not being able to hash out issues like custody and division of assets with your spouse can complicate the process. Which is why it’s so important that you have a skilled family law attorney on your side. So call The Kronzek Firm today at 866 766 5245 and schedule your free consultation. Our family law attorneys schedule appointments in our Oakland County office, which is in Farmington Hills. We have helped thousands of clients over the past decades and we can help you get divorced too.