Couples divorce for many reasons. Sometimes those reasons involve infidelity or abuse. Sometimes they fight too much and are no longer able to get along. And occasionally, couples in Illinois get divorced because one spouse just vanishes. He or she just decides the best way to get out of the relationship is to leave the state and not leave behind any contact information. In some cases, one spouse will decide to flee the state to avoid moving forward with the divorce proceedings. Legally, the couple remains married while the other spouse is absent, but if the spouse who remains in Illinois chooses, he or she may proceed with a divorce despite the missing spouse.
Divorce By Publication in Illinois
Typically, divorce papers are served by the county sheriff. This becomes much more difficult if your spouse is unreachable. If your spouse has been absent for a lengthy period of time and you have been unable to reach him or her or otherwise serve notice of divorce proceedings on him or her, a court may grant permission to seek divorce through publication under Illinois law. This requires showing the court that you have made a diligent effort to contact your spouse, including contacting family and friends, employers, and prior landlords. The spouse seeking the divorce will have to sign and submit to the court an affidavit of diligent search that details the steps taken to locate the absent spouse.
Once those requirements have been met, however, divorce by publication simply means publishing notice of the proceedings, including the title of the case, the parties involved, and the date that a default judgment may be entered in a major newspaper published in the last county where the spouse was known to reside.
If your spouse shows up before the date of the default judgment, they are going to have some explaining to do about their whereabouts over the past few months. The case will then proceed as a typical divorce, with the parties negotiating issues such as splitting assets and spousal support.
However, if the notice runs as scheduled without any contact from the other spouse, the court then has discretion to enter a default divorce. This means that the court will legally dissolve the marriage, but, because one party refused to take part in the process, many other issues will remain unresolved, and could be further litigated in the future if the absent spouse eventually returns.
Contact an Experienced Illinois Divorce Attorney
Divorces can become complicated for many reasons. Unfortunately, sometimes that reason is because the spouse is so intent on not cooperating with the process that he or she completely disappears. But you should not have you to stay in a marriage that you do not want to be a part of any longer simply because the other party disappears. If you are thinking of filing for divorce, contact one of our compassionate DuPage County family law attorneys today for a consultation about your case.