My wife has left the country and I do not know how to reach her, can I still file for an uncontested divorce?
You'll have to file for a contested divorce and properly attempt service.
Yes, you can if you are a resident of Florida for six months or more prior to filing. You can do a substitute service of your spouse by publication.
To file for divorce and serve your spouse through publication, you must take steps and then swear under oath that you have made diligent attempts to either serve your spouse or, if you do not know your spouse's whereabouts, made diligent attempts to locate your spouse. To prove this, you file an Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry showing what steps you took along with a Notice of Action for Dissolution of Marriage. You will also be required to file a Nonmilitary Affidavit saying that your spouse is not in active military service in the United States.
Once the requirements to serve through publication are met, you will publish a Notice of Action for Dissolution of Marriage for four (4) consecutive weeks in a local newspaper or publication. The clerk of court may provide you with publications qualified to print your publication. In your notice of action, there will be a date in which your spouse must respond by. If there is no timely response filed, then a default will be issued against your spouse and you may proceed with your divorce through the default process and have an uncontested hearing without your spouse. However, the relief you seek through the court will be restricted. The court will be unable to rule on certain issues such as alimony, child support and distribution of assets and liabilities.
The divorce will not be contested if she does not know about it. She will not know about it if you can not serve her. You cannot, however, begin a divorce proceeding without service. You must try and locate her. Send a piece of mail to the last known address and request forwarding address information from the post office, search phone books, contact friends, relatives, etc. then you will need to motion the court for alternative service and once granted follow the Order. Then you can obtain your divorce. You may want to hire an attorney to assist with this process.
Please note that this is not intended to be legal advise or to establish an attorney client relationship. In the event you would like a consultation we would be happy to schedule one to discuss your situation in detail, provide advice and to discuss representation
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
You may be able to find an attorney offering limited representation to help with all of these complicated steps for a fixed fee so that you can do the rest on your own.
This is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice upon which anyone should rely. Nor does it create any attorney client relationship.
Stanton L. Cobb
Board Certified Marital & Family Law Specialist
Fellow - American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
P.O. Box 149223
Orlando, FL 32814-9223