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Can I get a divorce without the other person's knowledge?

New York, NY |

I married a woman several years ago in 1991 and left her without her knowledge. I think it is considered abandonment. I want a divorce so I can marry someone else but I don't know where the woman I married is. I don't know where she lives or a phone number, nothing. Can I get a divorce without her signature?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. It is possible but it will be a longer process than usual because you will not be able to serve her with divorce papers unless a judge allows you to use publication or nail-and-mail service. If you talk with a private investigator then you may be able to locate her using the information you do know about her. Good luck!


  2. You can't get a divorce without her signature unless she has been properly served and her time to respond is past and she is in default. in NYS, service of a summons in a divorce action must be by personal service (face to face, handing her the papers). If personal service is not possible, you can make a motion to the court for alternative service by publication or substituted service but you will have to show the court that you exercised due diligence in trying to locate her. Your first line of attach should be to do some research to try to locate her. Do you have any common friends? Do you know where her relatives lives? Does she have a Facebook account? You can try peoplesearch.com or other online location services. If all those fail, you will need to consult an attorney to complete the process.


  3. I agree with the other posters - you must serve her with the papers before being allowed to proceed on her default. As such, you may ultimately need to hire a private investigator to conduct a "diligent search" to locate her. The P.I. doesn't necessarily need to locate her - if the Judge is satisfied a diligent search was properly conducted, the Judge can then order substituted service - which if no address can be located for her, usually takes the form of publication notice. As the process is quite complex, you're best advised to schedule a follow-up consultation with a NYC Divorce lawyer.

    * If you found my answer to be helpful, or the "best answer," please feel free to mark it accordingly.


  4. No. But if you cannot locate her, you may have to do notice by publication. It is a longer process and you will need the court's permission. You should contact a lawyer to help insure that you meet the requirements to serve by publication and be prepared for the added cost: the newspaper will charge you money to publish your legal notice (you know those boring legal publication sections in the paper - that's what you are going to do as part of this process). Good luck!

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