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When a Spouse Cannot Be Found in Alabama
When one spouse wants to call it quits but cannot find his or her missing partner, or when he or she is hiding, divorce by publication comes into play. Service by publication is commonly used in a divorce action to serve a spouse who has disappeared without a leaving a forwarding address. When the Respondent cannot or will not be found, the Petitioner must search for him or her and then serve process through Service by Publication.
Alabama's Search Requirements and Process
Alabama courts require an affidavit "averring that service of summons or other process cannot be made either because either the residence is unknown to the affiant and cannot with reasonable diligence be ascertained, or the identity of the Defendant is unknown, or, the resident defendant has been absent for more than 30 days since the filing of the complaint, or, the Defendant avoids service, averring facts showing such avoidance."
In order to be eligible for a "Divorce by Publication", you must complete and submit an Affidavit of Diligent Search to the court. This document clearly outlines all of the actions you have taken to locate your spouse, essentially proving to the court that your spouse absolutely can't be found.
If you actively pursue locating your spouse through the methods outlined in the Affidavit of Diligent Search, and still can't locate your spouse, then a "Divorce by Publication" is your likely method of getting a divorce.
Filing for Divorce by Publication in Alabama
The Clerk of the Court directs that the "service of notice by made by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the complaint is filed. If no newspaper of general circulation is published in the county, then publication shall be made in a newspaper of general circulation in the adjoining county."
The notice must be published once a week for four consecutive weeks.
Service is considered complete at the date of last publication. After the last publication, the newspaper must file an affidavit demonstrating that the notice was published. Thirty days after the last publication, the Petitioner files an action alleging that the missing spouse is in default, and the court sets a hearing.
From start to finish, divorce by publication in Alabama takes about four months.
"There are some limitations on what [a petitioner] can accomplish ... [through] service by publication." He or she can be awarded child custody, but the court will not award child support. The court will not transfer property when the missing spouse is served by publication.
Alabama Service by Publication is described in Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4.
Copyright Notice: These Alabama divorce laws above are copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.