How to Divorce Someone You Can't Find


In most cases, filing for divorce in Pasadena is fairly straightforward because the party wanting a divorce knows exactly where his or her spouse is located. However, if you have been separated from your spouse for quite some time and have lost touch, you might be wondering how to serve divorce papers on someone you can't find.

Even though it's uncommon, the court does recognize that sometimes people need to divorce a spouse who has simply disappeared. But, before your divorce can be granted, you'll be expected to make an effort to find your missing spouse. The following steps are usually suggested:

  • Talk to friends or family members
  • Check telephone directories
  • Check military records
  • Check Department of Motor Vehicle records
  • Check prison records
  • Check police records

You can hire a private investigator to help you find your missing spouse if desired, but this is seldom required by the court. You should, however, keep detailed records of your efforts to locate your spouse. Make copies of forms you've mailed out and write down the date of all phone calls as well as the name of the person you spoke to.

If you are unable to locate your spouse, you can do what is known as "service by publication." This means that the court will allow you to publish a legal notice in the newspaper or newspapers in areas that you think your spouse might be located instead of physically serving him or her with the divorce papers. The notice will need to be published for several weeks before you'll be allowed to proceed with the divorce.

How Can We Help?

If you are interested in obtaining a divorce from a spouse you can't locate, please contact our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at Our experienced Pasadena divorce attorneys can help you handle this unusual circumstance.