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When a Spouse Cannot Be Found in Rhode Island
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 personally served by the Sheriff), the Petitioner must conduct what is termed a "diligent search" followed by Service by Publication.
Rhode Island's Search Requirements and Process
Rhode Island 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 the missing spouse 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; 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 Rhode Island
If the search is fruitless, the Petitioner must file a motion asking the court's permission to serve by publication. This may be done "[w]henever in an action complete service cannot with due diligence be made by another prescribed method, the court shall order service by publication of a notice of the action in one or more newspapers in such form and for such length of time as the court shall direct. If a statute expressly provides for service of process by publication, publication shall be in the form and manner provided by such statute."
Rhode Island Service by Publication is described in Rhode Island Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4.
Copyright Notice: These Rhode Island 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.