A Georgia Divorce by publication allows divorce even if you can't locate your spouse
“I don't know where my wife is.” “I don't know where my husband is.” As local divorce divorce attorneys we hear that a lot.
There are many, many Georgia residents who simply don't know where their spouse is. He or she just left, and they can't be found. So let's say you want to get divorced, but you don't know where your husband or wife is. They could be anywhere in the state of Georgia or, really, anywhere in the United States. Maybe they don't even live in the United States anymore; they now live in a foreign country.
You haven't seen your husband or wife for weeks, months, or even years. Simply put, you have been separated from your spouse so long that you don't know where to find them. You may not know the city, state, or even country they where they reside.
Your spouse, likely, probably doesn't want to be found. They've started a new life; maybe they've started a new family. The good news is that you may be able petition the court for a divorce by publication. So even though your husband or wife is hiding (at least from you), there is a mechanism under Georgia law so that you can get divorced and move on with your life.
You've put off getting a divorce because you didn't know the whereabouts of your spouse, but now, through the divorce by publication method, you can finally and legally get divorced. See O.C.G.A. § 9-11-4.
A divorce by publication can be tricky; it has to be done correctly
Before a Georgia court will allow a divorce by publication, you must show your due diligence in trying to locate the other party. An experienced Georgia divorce attorney can help you with working with the court and to show the judge the efforts made to locate the spouse. Once the judge has reviewed the request, they can issue an order for service by publication. This means that the divorce filing will be published in the county's legal organ (newspaper) for several weeks. Once that is complete, you may proceed with asking the judge to finalize the divorce.
Where should you file a Georgia divorce by publication?
In Georgia, the general rule is to file in the county where the Defendant/Respondent resides; however, when the spouse cannot be located, under Georgia Law, the case would be filed in the county where the Plaintiff lives.
What is a diligent search?
A diligent search can include contacting family members, sending mail to the last known address, and even using a private investigator. An experienced family law attorney can help ensure that proper due diligence has been made. Because if the due diligence is deemed improper or faulty by a court, you cannot get a divorce by publication.
Where will the case be published?
Each county in Georgia has their own official legal organ where legal notices are published. This publication will vary from county to county. And, no, you can't just “run an ad in a paper” of your choice.
What if my spouse is found?
If you spouse is found during the diligence search, you must proceed with the case wherever the spouse resides. If the spouse is found once the case is published, you must have the case properly served by a sheriff, private process server, or have the other party file an acknowledgment of service.
My spouse and I have children, will a divorce by publication address custody?
In general, no, a divorce by publication will not address child custody or child support. If you need to address child custody and/or child support, contact a Georgia family law attorney to discuss the options involved.
As you can see, there are many variables and complexities associated with a divorce by publication; however, a knowledgeable family law attorney can help guide you through the often-complex process.
When you need help with any family law or divorce matter, call us at 678-215-4106.