Decree of divorce with gavelThis is the first post in a series of articles discussing filing for divorce when one cannot locate their spouse in Little Rock, Arkansas. Most spouses who decide to file for divorce know where the other is living, even if they are separated. In some situations, however, a spouse may leave without notice and without leaving information about their new whereabouts. When one is abandoned by a spouse, the prospect of divorcing them may seem daunting. It is possible, however, to proceed with the process even if one’s partner is not physically present. The purpose of this series is to explain the procedure for seeking a divorce when one’s spouse cannot be found and provide information about how a default judgment may impact the outcome of one’s case. If you need assistance, contact my office to speak with an attorney.

This series will review the following key subjects:

  • The process of obtaining a divorce through publication
  • How the court will typically rule on common divorce issues when a spouse cannot be located
  • What happens when the absent spouse returns to challenge a default divorce judgment

When seeking a divorce against an absentee spouse, one should understand these topics for a variety of reasons. First, like other lawsuits, the defendant must be served with a copy of the Complaint and a Summons to appear in court. Arkansas law establishes a process under which a spouse may serve the defendant by publication. This process requires the plaintiff to prove to the court that the spouse cannot be served in the traditional way because they cannot be located. Second, if a spouse fails to respond to the divorce Complaint after being served by publication, the court will proceed with a hearing and enter a default judgment against the missing defendant. It is important to understand how a judge may rule on typical divorce issues, such as the division of property, child custody, and support when issuing a default judgment.  Finally, should a missing spouse later appear and wish to litigate the divorce, it is possible for them to reopen the proceedings. One should be aware of how this may impact a previously issued default judgment.

Divorces can be stressful for all parties involved. This is particularly true when one spouse cannot be located or is hiding from their counterpart. My office has experience handling divorce cases under a variety of circumstances, including when one party cannot be found. If you need assistance, contact my office today to schedule a consultation with a lawyer. In addition to Little Rock, I also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff, and throughout the rest of Arkansas.

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