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How do you divorce a spouse who has left without a word?

On Behalf of | Apr 17, 2021 | family law |

If your spouse has left without a word, you are probably worried about how you can divorce them. New Jersey allows you to divorce a spouse who has disappeared, but the judicial system attempts to find them first.

File a complaint for divorce

You need to file a complaint for divorce form with the County Clerk’s Office of the State Court in the county where you live. New Jersey requires three copies of your form and a filing fee. How much the filing fee is depends on your jurisdiction. You can expect it to cost around $250. Record the docket number you receive when you file your complaint for divorce to check on your case.

Legal notice to your spouse

After filing a complaint for divorce, you need to provide legal notice to your spouse. The court knows that it’s not always possible for you to directly give the legal notice. There are other methods that the court uses to provide legal notice to your spouse, such as a professional process server or a sheriff’s deputy. When they can’t locate your spouse, they will make a newspaper ad informing them that you filed for divorce. If there is still no response after exhausting all possible ways of informing them, then the divorce proceedings will continue without their participation.

New Jersey gives your spouse 35 days to respond from the date they receive the divorce papers. If they don’t respond, they give up their right to participate in the divorce process. A judge will most likely divide the property in the way you requested in your divorce papers. The legal term for this is a default judgment.

Going through a divorce isn’t easy, especially when your spouse breaks off contact. Fortunately, you aren’t trapped in a loveless marriage in this situation. The law will grant your divorce whether your spouse chooses to remain hidden or not.