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I am preparing to file for divorce but I do not have an address for my estranged husband. Can I still file?

Arlington, MA |
Attorney answers 7


Yes you are able to file, but you need to get the court's permission for alternative service of process. When you file, you should accompany your complaint with a motion for service by publication and on the divorce complaint you should list your husband's address as unknown. You may want to hire an attorney even on a limited assistance basis to help you through all the paperwork.

Melissa Levine

Melissa Levine is a licensed attorney in Massachusetts. All answers are based on Massachusetts law and should not be construed as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed by Attorney Levine answering your question. It is advisable to consult with an attorney about your personal legal concerns.



Thank you for your help. It is a bit much and using a lawyer to assist may be the wisest choice.

Melissa Anne Levine-Piro

Melissa Anne Levine-Piro


No problem. The family courts now have limited assistance representation so you can have an attorney represent you for just portions of your case if you cannot afford/do not want an attorney for the entire case. You can search on AVVO for an attorney near you. Also here is a link to the motion for alternative service Feel free to call my office with any questions 978-637-2048.


Your husband cannot avoid the divorce by refusing to give his address. On the complaint, you should list his address as unknown or indicate his last know address. You will need to ask the court for permission to give him notice through alternate means, such as publication. A qualified family law attorney can make this process make easier for you. Good luck.

Advice provided is of a general nature to provide guidance. Divorce law is state specific. One should always check the laws in their home jurisdiction. An attorney-client relationship is not intended or established through provided responses.


You can still file for divorce. At the time you file the complaint & the other documents required-including a certified copy of your marriage certificate- you should file a motion to ask the Court's permission to serve by alternate service. Usually this mean publishing the summons in a local paper, or if he works at his job etc. A family law attorney will be able to explain the process to you. Most courthouses have lawyer of the day program that can help you with the necessary paperwork. Best o fluck.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship.


You could but it would be simpler if you had it or get it

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You can file for divorce and request permission to serve notice of the action by publication. You may want to have an attorney assist you through this process, as it sounds as though your husband is going to make things difficult.

Christopher Vaughn-Martel is a Massachusetts lawyer with the firm of Vaughn-Martel Law in Boston, Massachusetts. All answers are based on generalized Massachusetts law and the limited facts presented by the questioner. All answers are provided to the general public for educational purposes only and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question. If you would like an attorney with Vaughn-Martel Law to review your specific situation and provide you with legal options or information specific to you, you may schedule a telephone or office by calling 617-357-4898 or visiting us at Our office charges $100.00 for a consultation, and applies your consultation fee to your first bill if the Firm is hired to perform further work.


Your husband's unwillingness to provide his residential address suggests, but does not necessarily mean a lack of cooperation. His address is essentiall three reasons: first to ensure that the Court has jurisdiction over him; second, to provide notice of Court proceedings; and third to serve him with the Complaint for Divorce. If you can confirm the county he lives in jurisdiction will be satisfied. Notice can be given to his attorney, and service made upon him at work, or he can cooperate with service by acknowledging receipt before a notary.


In my State of practice, you must show the Court that you have performed a diligent search to locate your husband. Some resources that have proved useful are Google, Facebook or even White Pages. If you are still unable to locate your husband after a diligent search, you may then request permission from the Court to serve your husband by publication. Each state has different requirements for service by publication, but in general you must run a notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the County of filing that a case has been filed, who the case involves and some information on how the opposing party may respond to the case. Once that has been accomplished, if your husband does not respond to the Court after a certain amount of time, you may then request that a default judgment be entered against him. However, there are restrictions on the amount of relief you can receive under a default judgment.

In short, you should speak with an attorney about this situation, and they will be able to provide more detailed information about your State's requirements for serving a party that cannot be located.

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