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How To Get a Divorce Without Your Spouse


Do I Need My Spouse to File for Divorce in California?

California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you can end your marriage without stating a reason for wanting to do so. You can also divorce your spouse without their consent or even receive a response from them, as long as you have made a reasonable effort to contact them.

For more information about your rights when divorcing your spouse in California, please reach out to our experienced divorce lawyers. At Hepner & Pagan, we have a deep understanding of California family law and are prepared to help get you the divorce you need in the way you need it, no matter what obstacles may arise.

We can help find and serve your spouse the divorce papers or prove to the court that you have made every effort but have yet to find your spouse. Working with our legal team can get you the divorce you need, even if your spouse is missing. Contact us today for more information about how to divorce your spouse without their response by calling 408-688-9153.

What Legal Requirements Are There When Filing for Divorce in California?

Filing for divorce does not require the signature of both spouses. In fact, if your spouse has been served and has not responded for 30 days, a judge may rule according to your terms. Finding a missing spouse may add somewhat to the length of your divorce, but divorcing a spouse who cannot be found is still possible.

California Uncontested Divorce

One option for divorce in California is an uncontested divorce. This occurs when both individuals agree on the divorce terms with no disputations. Some items that must be agreed upon in a divorce include:

  • Child custody terms
  • Child support payments – who will pay and how much
  • Division of marital property, including bank accounts, homes, businesses, and other valuables
  • Spousal maintenance (alimony)
  • Division of marital debt
  • Visitation rights
    Working with skilled attorneys can help you and your spouse reach agreements without taking these critical matters to court. This can save a great deal of time and money in an uncontested divorce.

California No-Fault Divorce

Another type of divorce commonly used in California is a no-fault divorce. This refers to the divorce being the result of irreconcilable differences. Because California is a no-fault state, you can divorce your spouse without giving a specific reason. This is as opposed to a fault-based divorce, where you split up because of the other spouse’s actions, such as adultery, abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

What Options Do I Have if I Can’t Find My Spouse?

If you don’t know where your spouse is and you want to divorce them, you still have options. One of the best things you can do is to consult with attorneys like those at Hepner & Pagan, who can inform you of your rights and offer excellent legal counsel for your specific circumstances.

Make an Honest Effort to Find Them

The court will want to know that you have made a reasonable effort to find your spouse before granting the divorce. Several ways exist, including hiring an attorney to help serve your spouse even if you don’t know their current location.

Serve Your Spouse Through a Newspaper

One way to serve a spouse a divorce notice, even if you don’t know where they are, is through a newspaper. This is also known as “service by publication,” where you place a notice of divorce in a news publication. Your local clerk and attorney can help you understand the requirements for this kind of divorce service.

Serve Your Spouse Through Posting

Another method is to serve your divorce by posting a notice in the courthouse nearest your spouse’s last known address. However, since California has restrictions on service through posting, you should consult with an attorney before using this method.

Hire a Company or Your Local Sheriff

Finally, you may be able to hire a private company to find your spouse and serve the divorce notice. Your local sheriff may also be able to help for a fee. However, law enforcement officers may refuse to serve your spouse without a known address.

What Happens After I’ve Served My Missing Spouse?

If you have done everything possible to notify your spouse of the divorce, you must wait 30 days to see if they respond. After that, a judge may hear your case and rule to finalize the divorce.

If Your Spouse Doesn’t Respond

When a spouse doesn’t respond, you may get a default divorce ruling. This ends the marriage legally, even though your spouse may not be aware of the proceedings. A default divorce ruling can be published in the same way as the original divorce notification.

If Your Spouse Responds

If your spouse responds to the divorce ruling, you will then work together to resolve essential issues, such as custody of children and division of marital property. Your attorney can help with these matters to avoid court involvement as much as possible. Experienced family law lawyers like those at our law firm are skilled in mediation, which can help you achieve an uncontested divorce.

Should You Hire Our Divorce Attorney?

If you need to divorce your spouse but don’t know where they are, you may feel frustrated and hopeless. However, you can still divorce your spouse in California, even if they don’t respond to the divorce notice.
Our divorce attorneys understand your feelings and will listen compassionately to your concerns. We promise to stand by your side to guide you throughout the divorce process so you can get divorced and move on with your life. Call to discuss your unique case immediately with our caring, capable legal team at 408-688-9153.

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