Filing for Divorce as an Abandoned Spouse


Usually, when we talk about filing for divorce in Pasadena, the assumption is that the couple is still in communication with each other. Sometimes, however, one spouse wishes to file for divorce simply because he or she has been abandoned. Abandonment from a legal perspective usually requires that you be unable to locate your spouse for six months to one year, depending on where you live. There are a number of reasons why abandonment occurs, although substance abuse problems and mental illness are often a factor.

Abandonment is considered valid grounds for divorce in all 50 states, but proceeding with a divorce if your spouse is missing requires a few extra steps. You will need to complete a form that is known as an Affidavit for Service by Publication. This means that you are certifying that you do not know the location of your spouse and wish to serve him or her with notice of the divorce by publishing a legal notification in one or more of the area newspapers.

If your spouse does not appear within the specified time frame after your notice is published, the judge will make a default judgment. You can request a motion for default judgment from the clerk when you file the initial divorce papers.

If you have a child with your spouse, you will be granted full custody since the missing party will be presumed unwilling to care for the children. The court may also be able to terminate the missing person's parental rights, depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, if you have not heard from your ex in five years and have a new husband who wishes to adopt your child, it is possible for the courts to terminate the parental rights of your ex.

A qualified Pasadena divorce lawyer can help explain the procedure for obtaining a divorce if you have been abandoned by your spouse. He or she can also assist with efforts to locate the missing person if necessary.