Can my wife file for divorce and say she doesnt know where i am or how to get a hold of me. Can she get the divorce?
1 attorney answer
Assuming your wife is still in Oregon, yes, she has the right to divorce you. Under Oregon law, anyone who is married has the right to get divorced at any time. No reason is required, or relevant. This is known as 'no-fault divorce.'
To divorce you, your wife would have to file a petition with the Court, and have a copy served upon you - that is, delivered to you. If she doesn't know how to find you, this could be challenging - but not impossible. This is what a lawyer will tell a person to do if they want to get divorced and can't find their spouse:
First, the Petitioner (person who filed the divorce case) must use all reasonable means to locate the Respondent (the person who they're suing for divorce). This typically means talking to all their relatives and other people you used to know in common; it also means hiring a private investigator to find them. In this age of social media (and government records) it's hard for a person to disappear entirely. Once they find you, they can have someone deliver the divorce petition and other documents to you. You would then have 30 days in which to file a response. If you don't file a response in 30 days, then after day 31, the Petitioner can go back to the Court and ask for a 'default judgment,' granting them everything they asked for in the petition. If you do file a response, then the Court will set a trial date. At the trial, the judge will decide anything you haven't been able to agree on in advance. Note that, as I said, each married person has the absolute right to get divorced; so you can't stop them from divorcing you. The only issues to decide are what the terms of the divorce will be: distribution of property, spousal support, and custody and parenting time for any children you have together.
If they aren't able to find you using any of those methods, the Petitioner can still get a divorce. They can file a motion with the Court, asking for permission to do 'alternative service.' This typically means publishing an ad, in a newspaper of general circulation, for 4 successive weeks. After the ad is run, the Respondent is deemed to have been served. It's a bit of a legal fiction - how many of us check the back classified ads of newspapers to see if we're being sued? - but it's the only way to give a Petitioner their right to divorce. Which means that, in theory, if you work hard enough at not being found, your wife could divorce you and you wouldn't even know it.
There's really no good reason to dodge service. If you're concerned that your wife may divorce you, I'd suggest talking to her. (Assuming you can do so safely, of course, with neither of you feeling afraid of violence. If that's the situation, you should limit your communications to written correspondence, so you can prove what you said.) A divorce is always cheaper and easier if both parties can agree in advance.
Please read the following notice: Jay Bodzin is licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon and the Federal District of Oregon, and cannot give advice about the laws of other jurisdictions. All comments on this site are intended for informational purposes only, and are not intended to constitute legal advice, create an attorney-client relationship, or solicit business. No posts or comments on this site are in any way confidential. Each case is unique. Information not contained in these posts may create significant exceptions to the advice provided in any response. You are advised to have counsel at all stages of any legal proceeding, and to speak with your own lawyer in private to get advice about your specific situation.
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