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Does it matter how long you are separated before you divorce? And can someone divorce you without your knowledge?

Toledo, OH |

My husband got a job out of state in march 2012. He was staying with his brother while he was out there. I stayed in the house that we were renting. We have an 18 year old daughter who graduated in June and she started college in September 2012 where she is living on campus. We kept the house until September and i stayed and packed the house up. At the time, the plan was for me to put everything into storage and to go to work for my husband. But then he decided that he wanted a divorce. He was suppose to help me get an apartment and send me money, which he has not done. We have been married for eighteen yrs and we were together 5 years before we got married. I am living with my mom at this time. And he has not given me any money since November of 2012.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. No. It does not matter how long you are separated before a divorce is filed. It can happen that someone can divorce you without your knowledge, but it is not supposed to work that way. Generally, it is necessary that you receive actual notice of the divorce suit. However if the plaintiff submits an affidavit indicating they have no knowledge of your whereabouts, and that they have made a diligent effort to locate your whereabouts, then service for the divorce can be made by publication. In that case, the defendant may not receive actual notice of the divorce.

    I recommend that you contact a family law attorney immediately and discuss your options. The length of your marriage is moderate to long, which means that depending upon earning ability and additional factors, spousal support is definitely a factor for consideration. The longer you allow the situation to remain without addressing it, the more potential there is for the "unknown divorce action" to be initiated in the state where your husband moved to.

    IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE: Mr. Piper's response set forth above is not legal advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. Mr. Piper's responses to all questions posted on AVVO are intended to provide general information based upon the his understanding of the facts stated in the question, and are for the general educational purposes of the public, not any specific individual. Also, a particular case may involve additional facts and circumstances which might invalidate some or all of the concepts provided in this answer and therefore you should not rely upon this answer in any individual situation. In order to offer legal advice about this or any similar situation, a qualified attorney would likely need to consider many factors not stated in the question and would need to question the potential client in order to clarify the specific facts operable in that case. If you would like to obtain specific legal advice about this issue, it is recommended that you contact an attorney in your state. Mr. Piper is licensed to practice law in the State of Ohio, and may be contacted directly via email at: piperlawoffice@gmail.com.


  2. No, it does not matter how long you have been separated, nor is their a requirement of any length of time to be separated. You cannot get a divorce with out the other person knowing. There is a requirement called service. However, should you not know where someone is, if you try to find them, you can then do service by publication. The other person may never have actual knowledge of this proceeding but ONLY the divorce would be granted. There would be no division of assets, as the court would not have personal jurisdiction. I am not sure what you seek to do, or what you are afraid of happening, but you should consult with an attorney so that you are protected. Good luck.

    The above information is not, nor intend to be, legal advice. You SHOULD consult an attorney for specific advice regarding your individual situation. Based on this response no attorney-client relationship has been formed. If your matter is in Cuyahoga County or surrounding counties, we invite you to contact us. Please visit our website at www.kirnerandboldt.com. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information until such time and attorney-client relationship is formed. Attorneys in this firm are only licensed to practice in the state of Ohio and have no specific information as to the laws and rules of other states and none of the information provided is intended to be applied to the laws of other states.


  3. I agree with the two prior answers, but would add that if you live separate and apart without cohabitation for one year that is grounds for divorce in Ohio.

    Attorney Sternberg is admitted to the practice of law only in the State of Ohio. His answering of this question does not constitute an attorney client relationship, nor can his answer be relied on since the question does not permit Attorney Sternberg to seek additional information necessary to render an legal opinion.


  4. I agree with the other answers but would only add that if your husband did obtain a divorce in another jurisdiction by publication and not by actual service of process, then so long as you could prove that he did in fact know where you were located while he was representing that he did not, any decree of divorce could probably be set aside for fraud. You still need to get a lawyer right away who can get an order for temporary support with wage witholding.

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