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When a Spouse Cannot Be Found in Maine
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 by mail, certified mail or the Sheriff, which are the preferred means of service), the Petitioner must conduct what is termed a "diligent search" followed by Service by Publication.
Maine's Search Requirements and Process
Maine 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 sending a letter to the missing spouse's last known address, and making other attempts to locate him or her that may include checking the telephone book and directory assistance in the area where he or she was last known to be living, looking for any forwarding address, and asking friends and relatives who might know the location of the missing party.
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 Maine
If the search is fruitless, the Petitioner files a Motion for Service by Publication and Affidavit (CV-072), a notarized statement affirming that the address of the missing party "is unknown and cannot be ascertained by reasonable diligence, and [that he or she] cannot be served by any other prescribed method."
When the court is satisfied with the effort, it Issues an Order for Service by Publication (CV-144), which gives the Petitioner permission to publish a notice once a week for three successive weeks. The notice is published in the county where the action is filed. The publication must begin within 20 days of the court order permitting it.
The Petitioner prepares a letter to the newspaper, which completes a Verification (CV-73), attesting that the notice was published.
The missing spouse has 21 days to answer the notice, after which a hearing is held, usually 60 days later. The action ends in a default decree for the Petitioner.
From start to finish, Service by Publication takes about three months.
Maine Service by Publication is described Maine Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4(g).
Copyright Notice: These Maine 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.