Texas Divorce: If Your Spouse Is Missing
Such is the nature of divorce that It is difficult to dream up ways to make it more complicated, but a missing spouse can quickly fill the bill. If you are pursuing a divorce but cannot find your spouse, you cannot serve them with divorce papers, which adds an additional layer of complexity right out of the gate.
Serving Your Spouse
There are several ways to serve your spouse with a petition for divorce, but the preferred method is personal service, which is obviously not possible if you are not able to locate him or her. If this is the situation you find yourself in, you can ask the court to allow service by publication, which means publishing your service in the appropriate local newspaper (or via whatever mechanism is approved by the court). Before the judge grants a service by publication, however, he or she will need to be convinced that you have engaged in what is known as a diligent search in your efforts to locate your spouse. Ultimately, you will need to submit an Affidavit of Diligent Search with the court.
Your Diligent Search
Your diligent search for your spouse should explore all of the following avenues that apply to your situation:
Attempting to locate your spouse at his or her last known address and via his or her last known employer
Checking with the post office for any information regarding a forwarding address
Inquiring of your spouse’s friends and family members regarding his or her whereabouts
Searching for your spouse on online databases that cover addresses and phone numbers
Checking with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to determine if your spouse has been incarcerated
Investigating online to see if you can locate your spouse on social media or other platforms
Searching the military database if your spouse is in the service
The State of Texas can also throw other complications into your efforts to divorce your missing spouse (depending upon the circumstances involved).
Service by Posting
In particular situations, you can serve your missing spouse by posting a notice in the appropriate courthouse, which is called service by posting. The specifics that must apply include:
You have attempted to but cannot find your spouse.
You and your spouse have no shared children who are minors (and neither of you is pregnant).
Ultimately, the service by posting option only applies when there are no children involved.