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When a Spouse Cannot Be Found in North Dakota
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 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.
North Dakota's Search Requirements and Process
North Dakota 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 may entail checking the telephone book and directory assistance in the area where both parties live or lived; asking friends and relatives who might know the location of the missing spouse; checking the post office for any forwarding address of the missing spouse; and checking 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 North Dakota
If the search is fruitless, the Petitioner must file an affidavit stating that "after diligent inquiry personal service of the summons cannot be made on the defendant in this state to the best knowledge, information, and belief of the affiant."
When the court is satisfied with the effort, it Issues an order of publication, which gives the Petitioner permission to publish a "summons three times, once each week for three successive weeks, in a newspaper published in the county where the action is pending. If no newspaper is published in that county, publication may be made in a newspaper having a general circulation in the county." At the same time, "[a] copy of the summons and complaint, at any time after the filing of the affidavit for publication and no later than 14 days after the first publication of the summons, must be deposited in a post office or with a third-party commercial carrier in this state, postage or shipping prepaid, and directed to the defendant to be served at the defendant's last reasonably ascertainable address."
If the missing spouse fails to respond, the court considers the action uncontested. The Plaintiff can schedule a hearing to finalize the action.
North Dakota Service by Publication is described in North Dakota Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4.
Copyright Notice: These North Dakota 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.