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When a Spouse Cannot Be Found in Minnesota
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.
Minnesota's Search Requirements and Process
Minnesota 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 usually entails searching the telephone book and directory assistance in the area where the Petitioner lives and where the missing spouse is last known to have lived, contacting friends and relatives who might know his or her location, checking the post office for any forwarding address, and following any other possible sources that might lead to a current address.
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 Minnesota
If the search is fruitless, the Petitioner files an Application for Service by Alternative Means, a notarized statement stating the last known address of the Respondent, the "most recent contacts with the Respondent," his or her last known employment, the names and locations of his parents, siblings and relatives and friends who might know his or her location, and listing efforts to locate the missing party.
The court may then order that service is made by mailing the Summons and Petition "by first class mail to any address at which respondent may receive notice of the proceeding, including relatives."
If there is no such address, the papers must be sent to the last known address. Or, "[t]he may order publication in a legal newspaper if it is reasonably likely to succeed in notifying the respondent of the divorce proceeding."
If the divorce action involves real estate, the court must order that the Summons be published in a legal newspaper.
The court considers the missing spouse to have been served after 21 days. He or she has 30 days to respond to the Summons or "is deemed in default."
From start to finish, Service by Publication takes about two months.
Minnesota Service by Publication is described in Minn. Stat. § 518.
Copyright Notice: These Minnesota 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.