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Divorce by Advertisement?

Tonight's post on advertising your divorce was written by our Gainesville and Lawrenceville divorce attorney, Jennifer Thuy-Tien McCall.

The newspaper advertises yard sales, job listings, and . . . divorce? Yes, divorce.

I recently consulted with a woman who was still married even though she and her husband separated almost two decades ago. She lost contact with her husband soon after they separated and had no idea how to track him down. She was embarrassed during the consultation, but I assured her that she was not the first person I've worked with in her situation.

People lose touch, particularly with people they didn't want to keep up with anyway. Add two decades to that and this fellow could be one town over or he could be in a different hemisphere.

I've worked with many people who felt stuck because they didn't know how to find their spouse. I'm always surprised at the number of people who believe that they can't be granted a divorce unless their spouse signs a document, essentially giving them permission for the divorce.

The law does require due process, which is often simplified to "notice and an opportunity to be heard." But the courts also understand reality and that sometimes, we simply can't find the other party. The court provides a process in which you can still get divorced even when you have no idea where your spouse is.

When service of the divorce documents is approached this way, the court doesn't gain power over your spouse and doesn't acquire the authority to divvy up assets or debt but the court does obtain the power to grant you a divorce.

It is best to consult with an attorney for assistance with this process. Your attorney will draft your divorce documents as well as a Motion for Service by Publication. This will require an affidavit from you stating that you cannot, after due diligence, locate the opposing party. If you prove your due dilligence and the judge grants your Motion, you will be permitted to serve notice on the opposing party by advertising in the newspaper.

If you find yourself in this situation, know that you are not alone and that you are not without recourse. "Fred, if you are out there, I want out."

Jennifer Thuy-Tien McCall

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