Obtaining a Divorce in Illinois When Your Spouse Has Left the State

Posted on in Divorce

Some divorces hew surprisingly close to the dramatized version often depicted in television, film, and literature. There may be quarreling, recriminations, and accusations, all of which take place at a volume that would not be considered polite in domestic discourse. Other divorces, however, are the quite the opposite. Sometimes, in fact, divorce is a solitary affair. This may sound impossible, or at least paradoxical, until you consider the scenario in which one spouse has deserted the other. In such instances, when a spouse has left the state and refuses to return, or has altogether disappeared without a trace, it is still possible for the other spouse to lawfully obtain a divorce.

Divorce by Publication Is an Option for Deserted Spouses

It may seem too cruel to believe, but sometimes one spouse will leave the other in the lurch.  The absence may be willful, planned, and even carefully considered, or the disappearance may be related to issues of addiction or mental health. In addition, a spouse may disappear unexpectedly because of circumstances related to the criminal underworld (e.g., illicit means of debt collection and intimidation).

Whatever the reason for a spouse’s disappearance or unavailability, it is possible for the other spouse to obtain a divorce in Illinois by means of Publication. Here, Publication is the alternative to the service of divorce papers. Since there is no known address for the documents to be sent to, notice of the divorce must be broadcast to the public through an advertisement in a newspaper in the area where the missing spouse was last known to have lived.

As in other divorce processes, a judge must approve divorce by Publication. For approval to be granted, the judge must be convinced, based on a sworn declaration, of the serving (divorcing) party’s inability to find the defendant (the missing spouse) after making significant efforts to do so.

A Good Faith Effort Must Precede Divorce by Publication

To convince a judge that you have made the required attempts to locate your spouse, you must provide proof of having made a good faith effort. An experienced attorney will inform you of precisely what constitutes a good faith effort (e.g., physical, phone, and Internet-based searches, or even hiring a private investigator) and help you meet your legal requirements for completing your divorce by Publication.

At the Law Offices of Nancy Kasko, LLC, we understand the difficulties that come with divorcing an absent spouse, and we will help you understand your rights and responsibilities while advocating for your interests throughout the divorce process. Contact a Warrenville divorce attorney at 630-836-8540 to schedule a free consultation.