3StepDivorce Utah Divorce By Publication - Missing Spouse
When a Spouse Cannot Be Found in Utah

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 by mail or personally, which are the preferred routes), the Petitioner must conduct what is termed a "diligent search" followed by alternative service, which means Service by Publication.

Utah's Search Requirements and Process

Utah 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 entails checking the telephone book and directory assistance in the area where both the Petitioner and the missing spouse 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; 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.

>>> Download the Affidavit of Diligent Search

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 Utah

If the search is fruitless, or if the Petitioner cannot find the missing spouse using due diligence, or it he or she can demonstrate that the missing spouse is hiding, the Petitioner may ask the court for permission to serve process by publication. This means publishing a notice in a newspaper of general circulation. To this, the Petitioner must file:

  • a Motion for Alternative Service, which asks the court for permission to serve process by alternative service;
  • an Affidavit of Alternative Service, which documents the Petitioner's efforts at locating the missing spouse;
  • an Order Permitting Alternative Service, which is the court's approval of alternative service.
Once the court has issued the Order Permitting Alternative Service, the Petitioner can proceed with the process. He or she must provide proof of alternative service to the court, for example, proof of publication in the newspaper. If the missing spouse fails to respond, the court considers the action uncontested. The Plaintiff can schedule a hearing to finalize the action.

Utah Service by Publication is described in the URCP 4(d)(4).

s Copyright Notice: These Utah 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.

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