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I don't know where my wife is, but I need a divorce. How it works? How much does it cost and how long does it take?

New York, NY |

She left me two years ago, nobody knows where she is right now. She might be in another state (I'm in NY), I'm not sure. I know she had kid before marriage, but I've never seen him, and never adopted him.
Hired detective. Only guesses, no actual results. What are my options now? Service by publication? How much? How long it takes? Is any way I can reduce the cost?

NY attorneys please tell me as much details as possible.

Thank you very much in advance.

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Attorney answers 5


If you have her social security number she should be relatively easy to trace. if she can't be found after a diligent search there are options, including seeking permission from the court to serve her by publication.

There really isn't much you can do to alter the cost (other than try to hire a less expensive lawyer. But generally you get what you pay for.

Timing - depends on the county. Some are relatively quick, others can take some time.

Feel free to give a call in the morning and we can discuss alternatives.

Under the rules governing the conduct of attorneys in New York it may be necessary to remind you that this answer could be considered attorney advertising.


We can try to do an inquest. It's a bit tedious but would offer the best result.

Scott Gross Esq

This is not a solicitation nor is it legal advice. An attorney/client relationship has not been established. The Law Offices of Scott Gross, PC 631-456-2326


In order to get the courts permission to do service by publication you will need to show all efforts to locate her. Your first step of PI is great. A search through her social security no bet, if she is a citizen, may work as well. I have a feeling your PI may have tried that too. You will also need to do a ,military search, a postmaster search, as well as demonstrate every attempt you made. Then the papers are presented a s a motion to the court. Depending on the county it could be quite tedious. Also given the intricacies of this process you may find it helpful to hire counsel. Can it be done on your own yes but if you want it done as efficiently as possible. May help. Since we do these we know what is needed etc. that is not to say it is going to be overnight.
You mentioned a child. A search through the child may be possible too depending on what information you may have. If he is a minor may be hard but gives us an idea of things to look for.
I hope this helps.
As to cost it is definitely more time intensive Ghana basic uncontested divorce with no assets no children. But in part it will depend o. Work still outstanding. It will be helpful to see all the PI notes that he gave you to give a good assessment. The costs that the court requires including publication will likely be around 500 or so. Again an estimate based on past experiences.
I hope this helped

The above answer does not constitute an attorney client relationship and/ or retention of counsel. This answer is based upon the facts presented and may change if additional information is provided. The rules of the Bar for New York State may require me to advise that this could be construed as attorney advertisement.


Hi there, You are able to file for divorce even if you are unable to locate your spouse. There are methods to obtain an order for "substituted service" when you are unable to serve your wife personally. If you have made diligent efforts to locate her whereabouts and have been unsuccessful, you can seek to obtain an order to serve her"by publication" through a local newspaper.

An experienced attorney can assist you in this process, which can generally completed relatively quickly and without the need for a court appearance. We charge a flat fee of $1,500 in New York City for legal fees. The cost of the newspaper publication will depend on the newspaper that the court selects for publication- We can help you to reduce the cost of the newspaper fee to a certain extent. The estimated timeframe can take about 6 months, but can be sooner or later, depending on your case.

If you have further questions, feel free to call for a free telephone consultation.

Leta Liou, Esq.
The Law Firm of Liou & Maisonet, PLLC
124 Nassau Street, Suite 2
New York, New York 10038
(646) 587-0188
Matrimonial and Family Law attorneys serving Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, and Orange Counties.

Answers to questions by an attorney for The Law Firm of Liou & Maisonet, PLLC are for general purposes only and do not establish an attorney-client relationship.


You first need an attorney - even if just to find your wife, or to make a motion in Court for substitute service to allow for publication. If you publish, it takes at least three weeks of publications and that takes a couple of months to get a Motion approved. It will cost $210. for an Index number and a few other fees, but the bulk will be attorneys fees and as someone else said, you generally get what you pay for in that department, so don't go cheaply because it will usually cost more in the long run or you may not get the type of service you want.

Good luck.

You may call our office at 516-248-6600 or send an email to us at This answer does not form an attorney/client relationship with anyone and any answers do not constitute direct legal advice and should not be followed unless and until you have spoken with an attorney of your choice.

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