Can I divorce my abusive husband without notifying him?

Asked over 2 years ago - Cupertino, CA

I've recently escaped my abusive husband. I want a divorce so I no longer have him in any aspect of my life. I have been in therapy for a full year to deal with this. My problem is that I am afraid of this man due to past threats and promises of violence (he has stopped trying to contact me). I am not willing to file an order of protection because I am afraid.

What I would like to do is start the divorce process without him being notified. My main concern is that after he receiving documents, he will be reminded of me once again. I'd rather spare myself and my family possible retaliation. Any advice on anonymity and divorce? Or at the very least a way I can file without disclosing my whereabouts. We have no shared property & no children. Thank you for your expertise.

Additional information

Also, is he allowed to contest the divorce when there is undocumented abuse?

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Rebekah Ryan Main


    Contributor Level 18


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . You are in a scary situation but there are resources to help you. You can keep your address confidential and you have the right to have a domestic violence support person present for hearings. But you have to notify your husband to get a divorce.

    Here are some links that may help:

    And may I add that getting a restraining order for every person who has been abused or threatened is an important first step to punishing an abuser.

    Best of luck to you.

    Attorney Rebekah Ryan Main – visit us on the web at or call 909-891-0906 to set up a consultation.

    If you found this answer helpful, let me know by clicking the "Mark as Helpful" button at the bottom of this answer. It’s easy and appreciated.

    This response is intended to be a general statement of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice, does not create an attorney/client relationship and does not create a right to continuing email exchanges.

    This response is intended to be a general statement of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice, does not... more
  2. Richard H Wilson

    Contributor Level 11


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The other attorneys are correct in that you DO have to serve the ex. You should consult with an attorney to discuss both the legal issues and your legitimate safety concerns.

    Good luck.

    Richard Wilson

    The advice provided is general in nature and is not based on any confidential communication or information... more
  3. Maxine Devillefranche

    Contributor Level 9


    Lawyer agrees


    Answered . Unfortunately, he must be served with Dissolution of Marriage papers, but he does not have to know where you are located, due to the abuse you have been subjected to and your fear of him. In order for a California court to dissolve a marriage, both parties must be notified that a proceeding has been filed. If one party to a marriage wants a divorce, the other party cannot "contest" it. There will be a divorce, no matter what.

  4. Peggy Margaret Raddatz


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . He must be served but most states provide that you need not disclose your address so long as there are no children.


Related Topics


Divorce is the process of formally ending a marriage. Divorces may be jointly agreed upon, resolved by negotiation, or decided in court.

Domestic violence and divorce

Divorce is always an option for someone who is being abused by his or her spouse. The freedom to leave your marriage is an American right.

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