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When a Spouse Cannot Be Found in Mississippi
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 process), the Petitioner must conduct what is termed a "diligent search" followed by Service by Publication.
Mississippi's Search Requirements and Process
Mississippi 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 checking the post office for any forwarding address of the missing spouse.
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 Mississippi
If the search is fruitless, the Petitioner files an affidavit stating that the missing spouse is "a nonresident of this state or not to be found therein on diligent inquiry." The clerk, upon filing the complaint or petition, prepares a summons to the defendant "to appear and defend the suit."
The summons is published "once in each week during three successive weeks in a public newspaper of the county in which the complaint or petition, account, cause or other proceeding is pending if there be such a newspaper, and where there is no newspaper in the county the notice shall be posted at the courthouse door of the county and published as above provided in a public newspaper in an adjoining county or at the seat of government of the state."
Upon completion of publication, proof of the prescribed publication is filed in the papers in the case. The defendant has 30 days from the date of first publication in which to appear and defend. "Where the post office address of a defendant is given, the street address, if any, shall also be stated unless the complaint, petition, or affidavit above mentioned, avers that after diligent search and inquiry said street address cannot be ascertained. Where the post office address of the absent defendant is stated, it shall be the duty of the clerk to send by mail (first class mail, postage prepaid) to the address of the defendant, at his post office, a copy of the summons and complaint and to note the fact of issuing the same and mailing the copy, on the general docket, and this shall be the evidence of the summons having been mailed to the defendant."
If the missing spouse fails to respond, the court considers the action uncontested. The Plaintiff can schedule a hearing to finalize the action.
Mississippi Service by Publication is described in Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4.
Copyright Notice: These Mississippi 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.