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Can my husband divorce me without my knowledge

Larchmont, NY |
Attorney answers 6


In order to be divorced a summons needs to be filed in court and served on the opposing party. Consult with a divorce lawyer if your husband is considering a divorce to review your options before he does anything. There are issues of child support, spousal support, division of marital assets and payment of legal fees to review. Many lawyers offer free consultatjons for divorce cases.

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Under the Constitution of the United States, parties to legal actions are entitled to "due process." This includes notice to a defendant. Only when reasonable efforts to locate a defendant fail, can that notice be given by other means, such as publication. If your husband obtained a decree of divorce without notice to you when he knew where to locate you, the decree of divorce could be set aside. You will need to retain counsel to review the court file for the evidence related to your due process notification rights.

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You would have to be served the papers. If you can not be located with due dilligence a Judge can allow service via publication in a newspaper. If he knows where you live, he needs to serve you rather than resort to publication (which is costly).

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The short answer is no, he cannot. The law requires that you be served with the summons. You will need to promptly file a motion to vacate your default in the divorce case. Be prepared to prove your current residence, in the event he claimed to have served you elsewhere (i.e., with a lease, copy of utility bills, etc.). You should also be able to retrieve a copy of the summons & complaint, divorce judgment & affidavit of service from the clerk's office. Then schedule a consultation with a Westchester Divorce attorney.

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The short answer is, "Yes, he can."

Divorce Summonses and Complaints have been found in sewers, trash cans, in land fills and at the bottom of rivers -- many places other than in the hands of the defendant. Process servers have lied in numerous cases that they properly served someone and didn't. There are also instances where there are many more blonde, blue-eyed tall thin women other than you. So, yes, he can go through an entire divorce action and you will have no clue.

It is profitable to do a one-sided divorce. The solo filer can give himself custody and child support and even a portion of the marital estate completely secretly. Our divorce judiciary may miss completely that the parties are in fact not married -- the woman is a stand-in going through the motions for the man to get a favorable divorce judgment. The worst judges will have their court attorneys do entire cases alone. In these instances, the worst results occur.

Is this legal? Our current crop of politically picked judiciary may never have practice law and may take a closed-eyed view of litigants filing motions to vacate judgments of divorce. In judge school, it is taught that divorce judgments are always modifiable in a follow-on proceeding perhaps in family court or as a post judgment action in divorce court. So the outmaneuvered spouse has to go through procedural hoops to get a bogus judgment vacated. Does it happen? Perhaps not in all cases. Perhaps not even close in many cases.

Without knowing more, there is little else to say.

Good luck.


The law requires that you should be served with the divorce summons so that you become aware of the case and decide whether you want to pursue and protect your rights. If he obtained a divorce without you being served with the summons, then he improperly obtained the divorce, and you can ask the court to set aside or cancel the divorce. You should consult an attorney immediately.