What happens in the state of WA if a person cannot be found to serve divorce papers on?

Asked almost 2 years ago - Seattle, WA

My husband and I are both non US citizens and I'm on a student visa. He's no longer in the US and is trying to file for a divorce remotely. He tried to serve me with papers but i wasn't home and I am leaving the US in 2 weeks. I wanted to know what happens if:

1. he can't find me to serve these papers on in these two weeks.
2. what happens if I am found and served and then I leave the country?
3. Will the divorce still come through if neither of us are US citizens and are not residing in the US either?

Thank you!

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Meredith McKell Graff

    Pro

    Contributor Level 10

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . 1. If he can't find you to serve you, he can get an order to publish notice in the newspaper and after the required period of publication, he can take a default order against you and get his divorce.
    2. If you are served, and don't respond, he can take a default against you and get his divorce. If you file a response, and do not settle with him as to the terms of the divorce, and move out of the country so you are not at the trial, he will get what he has asked the court for because you are not there.
    3. Whether you and he are US citizens is not an issue for the state court deciding the divorce. If you resided in that state during the marriage, it has the authority to enter a divorce decree.

    My response does not constitute legal advice but is provided for the purposes of advertising and education. Please... more
  2. Mark L. Alexander

    Contributor Level 14

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . 1. If you can't be personally served before you leave the US, he could seek an order allowing him to serve by publication in a newspaper. Then the court can dissolve the marriage, but probably nothing else.

    2. If you are served in WA, the action will proceed. You can still mail in your responsive documents (or e-file, if the action is in King County), wherever you are. You can negotiate with him to reach agreed final orders and have them entered by the court. Otherwise, the case would proceed to trial - in about 11 months, if it's in King County.

    3. Lack of citizenship will not prevent entry of a dissolution. Even if neither party continues to live in the US, the action can proceed so long as either one of you was a Washington resident when the action was filed. See RCW 26.09.030. Although the statute uses the term "resident", residency has been viewed by the courts as meaning "domicile": that is, physical presence and the present intent to make a place one's home. Based on the facts you provide, it's unclear whether either one of you had Washington as your "domicile" when the action was filed; it's largely a question of intent.

    If this answer is helpful or the best answer, please say so. This is for general information purposes only, and... more
  3. John Stocks

    Contributor Level 9

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . If a person cannot be located, but they have fled the country, then a process server can go through the due diligence and prove that the person left the state to avoid service of process. At that point, someone can serve by publication (newspaper summons) and that could establish jurisdiction, permitting a default and default judgment against the person who ran away out of state and was dodging service.

  4. Ronald Lee Bell

    Pro

    Contributor Level 14

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . They can publish in the nuts paper notice of the law suit and get a divorce without your actual knowledge. Get a local attorney to protect your rights. Do not put your head I. The sand and think you are hiding from it as they are looking right at you and are going to get what they want. In Illinois , and I cannot speak for your jurisdiction a divorce by publication only gets you divorced it does not dispose of th issues of support, property, or custody, or alimony called maintenance in Illinois. Ask your local counsel the effect of a published divorce in your jurisdiction if one does not answer this question on the effect of a published divorce on Avvo

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