Monday, October 13, 2014

Divorce and the Unknown Spouse

Last week presented an interesting question: can you get divorced if you haven’t seen or heard from your spouse in over 40 years? The prospective client is preparing to retire and realized that there was this pesky thing hanging over his head: he and his wife separated in the early 1970’s and he hasn’t heard from his wife since then.

After speaking to a few other attorneys who advised him that he should just pay them a bunch of money so they could file for divorce, he and I discussed a more elementary question: does he even need to?

With the passage of 40 years, there are a lot of different possible outcomes to this story. The answer that others immediately gravitated to was to just file the paperwork and let the courts workout the solution. But instead of just going that route and incurring fees, he and I discussed finding out where his wife actually is.

Our next call was to a private investigator that I work with and, for significantly less than it costs to get a divorce, we are going to try to track down the prospective client’s wife. Maybe she is living around the corner? Maybe she has remarried? Maybe she already obtained a divorce? Maybe she left the country? Maybe she’s no longer alive?

Before going full steam ahead and paying significant money to serve a missing person by publication, sometimes it is better to find the person first.

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