Put It in an Ad: How to Divorce a Spouse in the Newspaper

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Jan 2, 2019

Jan 2, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

They're mean, they've cheated, you're just not in love with them anymore. The reasons for divorce go on and on.

And you're not alone. Roughly 40-50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce.

While you may be looking forward to feeling free and happy after your divorce, you have a long road ahead. Dividing assets, partaking in child custody battles, and fighting over child support and alimony may all be in your future.

However, before you worry about that, you'll need to start the process by filing the appropriate paperwork. If you don't know how to locate your spouse, you may need to take some extra steps to get a divorce by publication.

But what is that exactly? Well, let's start by looking at when publishing a divorce notice is legal and necessary.

Who Can Publish a Divorce Notice in the Newspaper?

If you're ready to move on from a bad marriage, filing for divorce is the first step. But your partner will need to sign the papers too.

Normally you or your lawyer would serve them with papers in person or by mail. For most, this step is easy.

But how can you serve them with papers if you have no idea how to find them? A legal, although seemingly odd, way to notify your spouse is via the newspaper. However, this can only be used as a last resort.

But how do you go about doing that? Do you just call the newspaper up and have them publish a seething letter? Well, not quite.

Keep reading to learn the appropriate steps to publishing a divorce notice in the newspaper, so you can get legally divorced.

1. File for Divorce

Alright, before you can go calling newspapers up, you have to start by taking the traditional route.

Hit the internet to learn more about the divorce laws in your state. Then, go to the local court and file for divorce.

You'll have to submit a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and pay a filing fee. The clerk of court will then issue a summons that your spouse will need to respond to.

2. Try to Find Them

"What am I supposed to do with a summons if I don't know where to find my spouse?" Well, in order for newspaper divorce notices to be legal, you need to first exhaust all other options. This means trying your hardest to track them down.

You may need to check their last known address, contact their relatives, and even stop by their work. Most states will let you issue subpoenas which will give you access to things records from tax collectors and utility companies that may help you find them. Be sure to document all attempts to locate and contact your spouse, so you can present an affidavit as proof that you've tried to find them.

3. File a Motion to Serve via Publication

So, you ran all around town trying to find your spouse and still came up empty. Now it's time to get into the nitty-gritty of divorce by publication.

Go back to the court and file a motion to serve via publication, also called an order for publication. You'll have to submit your affidavit outlining your attempts to contact them, and your order for publication will likely require a judge's signature.

4. Call the Right Newspaper

You may feel tempted to plaster your divorce notice over every newspaper you can find for revenge. Or perhaps you want to keep things as quiet as possible and only publish it in the small newspaper none of your friends, family, or colleagues read.

However, you'll have to choose the right newspaper to ensure everything is legal. Ask the court clerk if there is a list of approved publications.

If you believe your spouse no longer lives in the same city as you, ask the court clerk for further guidance. They may require you to publish it in the local newspaper for their last known address.

Once you have all the paperwork done and you've chosen the right newspaper, take a copy of the judge's order to the newspaper's office. If there is a legal notice department, go straight here. If not, you'll probably have to ask the front-desk worker what department handles divorce and other legal notices.

However, do not leave your paperwork at the front desk with a promise that it'll get passed on to the right person. Make an appointment if needed to ensure your notice gets published.

Your order will likely specify how long the divorce notice has to run. Make sure to discuss this with the newspaper so there is no miscommunication.

5. Get Verification

"Ahh, the divorce notice is finally being published. I'm all done, right?" Well, almost. There's just one more step you need to take.

Once your divorce notice has been published for the number of days required by the judge, you'll need to get in contact with the newspaper again. They'll need to sign an affidavit that confirms your notice was indeed published for the mandatory number of days.

The newspaper may submit this affidavit to the court for you. But more likely, you'll need to pick up a copy and submit it yourself.

And voila! Your spouse has now been legally notified of your divorce. You can contact a lawyer and proceed with the next steps.

Summing Up: Getting a Divorce by Publication

Don't let your spouse's unknown location hold you back any longer. If you're unable to find them, you can still get divorced. Just follow our guide to divorce by publication to legally notify your partner and proceed with your divorce.

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