What happens if you want to divorce your spouse, but you don’t know where they are, or they have failed to or refused to respond to a summons? It is still possible to get a divorce without a spouse’s signature in New York if you follow the necessary steps.
While divorce can be a messy process in the best of cases, it can further complicate matters when one spouse is not locatable or refuses to cooperate. Fortunately, New York City divorce attorneys have options in these instances. At the law office of Juan Luciano Divorce Attorney, we can help you file for divorce without the signature of your spouse.
Your Spouse is Legally Entitled to Know About Your Intention to Divorce
Here in New York, it is possible to get a divorce with only one spouse’s signature. While it is often referred to as a “no signature required” divorce, that is a bit of a misnomer.
All reasonable measures must be taken to locate and notify your spouse of your intention to divorce. This allows them the opportunity to hire an attorney or prepare their own defense. But if you are unable to locate your spouse or he or she refuses to sign or even acknowledge the paperwork, you do have options.
What is the Legal Process of Notifying a Spouse of Your Intent to Divorce?
The usual legal process for divorcing in New York requires one spouse to petition the other by serving divorce papers, with the receiving spouse acknowledging service and returning the paperwork. Consequently, if you intend to divorce your spouse, you must first serve him or her with a Summons with a Notice or a Summons and Complaint.
Your spouse is then required to respond within 20 days. If the receiving spouse hasn’t responded within the given amount of time, their lack of a response is considered a default, and the divorce can proceed.
But there are instances when spouses have not been together for a significant period of time. One may have no idea where the other resides, where they work, or how to locate them.
Because a default can only occur if the recipient spouse has been served, if that spouse can’t be located, he or she may be served by publication. When a spouse cannot be found to serve a summons, the petitioning spouse can request a Motion to Serve by Publication. This will allow notice to be filed in a newspaper or at the courthouse to advise the unlocatable spouse of your intention to divorce.
Taking Reasonable Steps to Find the Other Spouse
While serving by publication is a valuable option, the petitioning spouse must first provide evidence that they have made every reasonable effort to find the defendant spouse and prove that to the court. In the motion, the judge will want to see exactly what measures were taken to locate the other spouse to ensure that you have taken reasonable measures to find them.
This means that you, as a petitioning spouse, must keep a list of any attempted contacts and what was found through these investigations. You will want to save any correspondence, documents, or other information that you send, receive, or are returned as undeliverable.
Once the court is convinced that the petitioning spouse has made all reasonable attempts to find the other, it will grant permission to publish a notice of the divorce in the paper for a period of three weeks. If no response is forthcoming from that publication, you may proceed with the divorce on your own.
Filing for divorce is never pleasant but having the right legal counsel to guide you through can help. If you have questions about filing for divorce in New York or are interested in how a one-signature divorce may work for your situation, we would be happy to help. At the law offices of Juan Luciano Divorce Attorney, our skilled team of New York City divorce lawyers is with you each step of the way. Contact us at (212) 537 5859 to schedule a consultation.