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When a Spouse Cannot Be Found in Georgia
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, fails to respond to the Summons), the Petitioner must conduct what is termed a "diligent search" followed by Service by Publication.
Georgia's Search Requirements and Process
Georgia 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:
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 Georgia
If the search is fruitless, the Petitioner files an Affidavit of Publication and Diligent Search, a notarized statement affirming that the Petitioner has checked with the Respondent's friends and relatives, his or her landlord and searched telephone directories and information.
When the court is satisfied with the effort, it Issues an Order of Publication, which gives the Petitioner permissions to publish a Notice of Publication four times within 60 days, with each publication being seven days apart. The publication is often in the county where the action is filed.
If the missing spouse fails to respond within one week of the last publication of the notice, the court considers the action uncontested. The Plaintiff can schedule a hearing to finalize the action.
The Clerk of the Court usually sends the notice to the newspaper where it is published, but the Petitioner pays the cost, usually about $20 a publication, for a total of $80. This is in addition to the average $75 divorce filing fees.
From start to finish, Service by Publication takes about two to three months.
The court can grant the divorce in a publication action, but it cannot make any decisions regarding child custody, child support or division of property.
Georgia Service by Publication is described in O.C.G.A. §9-11-4(f)(1)
Copyright Notice: These Georgia 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.