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When a Spouse Cannot Be Found in Tennessee
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 by a Deputy Sheriff, private process server, or certified mail, which are the preferred means), the Petitioner must conduct what is termed a "diligent search" followed by Service by Publication.
Tennessee's Search Requirements and Process
Tennessee 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 Petitioner lives as well as in the area where the missing spouse is last known to have 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 exploring 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 Tennessee
If the search is fruitless, the Petitioner files a Motion for Service of Process by Publication, a notarized statement affirming that the Petitioner "tried diligently" but could not locate the missing spouse's address and that it cannot "be ascertained upon diligent inquiry."
When the court is satisfied with the effort, it Issues an order for Service by Publication, which gives the Petitioner permission to publish a notice. The missing spouse then has 30 days to answer. If he or she does not, the Petitioner receives a default judgment.
Tennessee Service by Publication is described in the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4.08, and the Tennessee Code Annotated, §§ 21-1-203 through 21-1-205.
Copyright Notice: These Tennessee divorce laws above are copyrighted by 3 Step Solutions, LLC. 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.