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When a Spouse Cannot Be Found in Vermont
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 the Sheriff), the Petitioner must conduct what is termed a "diligent search" followed by Service by Publication.
Vermont's Search Requirements and Process
Vermont 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 means due diligence, and it may entail checking the telephone book and directory assistance in the area where the missing spouse lives 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 Vermont
If the search is fruitless, the Petitioner may ask the court to permit Service by Publication, which may be made at any time after the filing of the complaint. The court, "on motion upon a showing made by verified complaint or affidavit duly filed that service cannot with due diligence be made by another prescribed method," shall order Service by Publication.
An order for Service by Publication shall include (a) a brief statement of the object of the action; (b) if the action places in issue the title or interest of the Defendant to any property, a description of any such property; and (c) the substance of the Summons. The order shall also direct its publication once a week and at least seven days apart for two or more successive weeks in a designated newspaper or newspapers of general circulation reasonably calculated to give notice to the Defendant. The order shall also direct the mailing to the Defendant, if an address is known, of a copy of the order as published. The first publication of the Summons shall be made within 20 days after the order is granted. Service by publication is complete on the twenty-first day after the first publication. The Plaintiff shall file with the court an Affidavit that publication has been made.
Vermont Service by Publication is described in Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4.
Copyright Notice: These Vermont 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.