How do I get a divorce if I have not lived with my husband for 18 years and do not know where he is?
Question Details: I need to get a divorced now. How can I do this?
In a case such as yours, the law provides a remedy called "service by publication". By way of background, in any legal proceeding action against cannot be taken against someone without first giving them notice. This is to give them the chance to appear and explain their side of things. In the case of a divorce, even if a spouse can't be located they still must be notified. With service by publication, the filing spouse (i.e the "petitioner") makes a good faith dilgent effort to locate the missing spouse (i.e. the "respondent"). The petitioner must present proof to the court that they made a genuine effort to locate their absent spouse. Once done, they will be allowed to serve that spouse by publishing notice of the divorce in a newspaper in the area of the spouse's last known location (instead of the usual method of personal service). As a general rule, the respondent has 30-60 days to file a reply. If they fail to do, then the petitioner can file a request to enter a "divorce by default" (although the respondent is given a certain time limit in which they can file an appeal). At this point, you can consult directly with a local divorce lawyer for further advice.