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Kentucky Divorce By Publication - Missing Spouse

When a Spouse Cannot Be Found in Kentucky

When one spouse wants to call it quits but cannot find his or her missing partner, or when he or she is hiding, Kentucky requires that the Petitioner use a Warning Order Attorney to attempt to locate the missing spouse. Divorce happens only after a court has been satisfied that a good faith effort has been made to locate the missing spouse through the Warning Order Attorney, who attempts to contact the missing spouse. Service by warning order 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 process by the Sheriff or certified mail, which are the preferred means), the Petitioner must avail himself or herself of the warning order alternative.

This routine may be used if the missing spouse "has left Kentucky to avoid service of process," or when the Petitioner "does not know any means by which to find the address of the other party."

Kentucky's Search Requirements and Process

When the missing spouse cannot be found and the Petitioner has no reasonable means of finding him or her, the court orders the appointment of an attorney who is a practicing member of the Kentucky Bar. He or she makes diligent efforts to locate the missing spouse and inform him/her by mail of the pending divorce. The attorney reports back to the court within 50 days of his appointment with the result of his efforts to locate the missing spouse.

Even if the warning order attorney does not locate the missing spouse, the Petitioner nevertheless can ask the court to finalize the action against the missing spouse, but only after the Warning Order Attorney files a report.

If this regime is used, the court may grant a divorce and award custody of any children, but it will not be able to award child support or alimony or divide marital property.

Before applying for a warning order attorney, the Petitioner should check with the Court Clerk to determine the proper fee.

Service by warming attorney is described in Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure 4.05, 4.7.

Copyright Notice: These Kentucky 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.

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