Generally, when a couple or individual decides to end their marriage, one spouse will file for divorce, and the other spouse will respond. Spouses will spend the remainder of the divorce process negotiating over things like asset division and child custody. However, when one spouse has gone missing, serving divorce papers can be difficult or impossible. Other times, a spouse may simply decide to be uncooperative, refusing to respond to divorce papers or attempt to resolve divorce issues.
People who want to get divorced but do not know where their spouse is are not doomed to stay stuck in their marriage. There are ways to get divorced, even if your spouse is missing or uncooperative, and an experienced Illinois divorce attorney can help.
How Does a Missing Spouse Change the Divorce Process?
Illinois provides an alternative pathway to divorce for people whose spouses are missing. This is called “divorce by publication.” To qualify for a divorce by publication, one spouse must convince a judge that the missing spouse cannot be located, despite making serious efforts to do so.
The spouse who wants to get a divorce is responsible for undergoing a somewhat burdensome process to try to locate their spouse. It is important to keep good records during the location process because that is how a judge knows the effort to find the spouse was sincere. Spouses must try to:
Serve divorce papers at the spouse’s last known address
Try to reach the spouse by phone, email, letters, social media, or by contacting the spouse’s known family members or friends
Post a missing person notice in public locations
Look for the spouse in obituaries, hospital records, jail records, and more
If the missing spouse is truly missing, the divorce can proceed according to the preferences of the spouse who filed for divorce. If there are minor children involved, that spouse will receive full custody and will likely be apportioned all marital assets and debts.
What if My Spouse Will Not Respond to Divorce Papers?
If a spouse has been served with divorce papers and simply chooses not to respond, after 30 days, the filing spouse can file for a motion to default. This allows the divorce to go forward without the other spouse’s involvement. While the unresponsive spouse will still need to be informed of court hearings and other important dates, a judge will make a file decision and rule in favor of the petitioning spouse on issues of child support, asset division, alimony, etc.
Need Help? Meet with a DuPage County Divorce Attorney
Just because your spouse cannot be located or refuses to cooperate does not mean you have to be trapped in a bad marriage forever. To learn more and get help ending your marriage, schedule a free consultation with the Wheaton, IL divorce attorneys with Andrew Cores Family Law Group. Call us today at 630-871-1002.