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When a Spouse Cannot Be Found in Connecticut
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. Divorce by publication happens "only after a judge has been convinced, based on a sworn declaration, of the serving party's inability to find the Defendant after trying hard. 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 (and, therefore, cannot be served personally or by certified or registered mail), the Petitioner must conduct a good faith search followed by Service by Publication.
Connecticut's Search Requirements and Process
Connecticut courts require a good faith effort by the Petitioner to prove that he or she has made a genuine search for his or her missing partner. This search entails attempting to contact the missing spouse at his last known address and asking friends and relatives who might know his or her location.
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 Connecticut
If the search is fruitless, the Petitioner files a Motion for First Order of Notice (JD-CL-44), and an Order of Notice (JD-CL-38). When the court approves the order, the Petitioner may publish it once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper where the missing spouse is likely to be living or his or her last known address.
The newspaper then completes an Affidavit of Publication, which certifies that the notice was published.
If the missing spouse fails to respond, the Petition then files a Motion to Dispense with Further Notice, to which is attached the Affidavit of Publication. (The court does not provide a form for this motion.)
When the court approves the motion, the action can proceed as a default.
Service by publication should be used as a last resort, and it is a crime for the Petitioner to lie about not knowing the whereabouts of the missing spouse, who can have the divorce declared null and void if he or she can prove that the Petitioner could have found him or her.
Moreover, the court may not order alimony, child support or division of property outside of Connecticut unless the missing spouse is personally served or receives notice by mail. However, if the missing spouse is served by publication and enters a response, the court can "enter the full range of orders."
Connecticut's Rules of Civil Procedure govern divorce by publication.
Copyright Notice: These Connecticut 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.