Getting a divorce – even among the most amicable of couples – can bring numerous challenges.  But what happens when your spouse is being especially uncooperative or moves away to an undisclosed location? Can you get a divorce without your partner’s knowledge or consent? The short answer is yes, but only in very limited circumstances.

Every state’s divorce laws are different, so it’s essential to seek legal counsel to make sure you’re following proper procedures. In New York State, there are two methods for getting a divorce without spousal consent: the ‘no signature required’ route and a divorce by publication.

It is unlikely that your partner will be in the dark about your intentions since state law requires that you formally serve divorce papers to the non-filing spouse.

Whichever route you take, it’s recommended to hire an experienced family law attorney when getting a divorce. The lawyers of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have been serving clients in New York and New Jersey since 1975 and can help clients avoid pitfalls when pursuing a divorce without a spouses’ signature.

No signature divorce process

In order to get a divorce in NY, the non-filing spouse must be served a notice of summons within 120 days of your divorce filing in the County Clerk’s Office.  You can serve the divorce papers yourself, or better yet, have a third-party serve the summons. The person who personally serves the papers must be 18 years of age or older.

When your spouse is served the divorce papers, he or she has 20 days to respond to the documents and acknowledge receipt. Once 20 days have passed without a response, the courts will consider this a “default,” and the divorce can be processed if the non-filing spouse had knowledge that you filed the divorce papers.

If your spouse did not receive the divorce summons, you cannot proceed with a “no signature” divorce.  The easiest way to ensure this does not happen is to hire a licensed process server.

Absentee spouse – divorce by publication

If your spouse has moved and you are unable to locate him or her after a thorough search, you can request the court’s permission to proceed with a divorce by publication. In order to go this route, you must prove that you have conducted an exhaustive investigation to find your spouse. This may include looking at internet directories, DMV records, post office records, and the board of elections, among other places.

If you can demonstrate that you have made all reasonable attempts to no avail, the courts should grant permission to publicize the divorce. In most cases, the legal notice of divorce is published in a popular newspaper where your spouse last resided. The notice is published once a week for three consecutive weeks. If three weeks have elapsed, and your spouse has still not contacted you, you are then eligible to have the divorce processed.

Divorce by publication is a last resort option reserved for cases where you cannot find your spouse, despite diligent efforts. It can be a pricy and extensive undertaking, considering costs for hiring a private investigator, as well as court filing fees.

It is this situation, in a divorce by publication, where a spouse may not know about the divorce until after it has been processed.

Private consultation with family law attorneys

In conclusion, it is possible to obtain a divorce without your spouse’s consent, and the divorce lawyers of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman can help protect your interests along the way.

Ending a marriage is rarely an easy process. Divorces can be expensive and time-consuming without a skilled legal advocate in your corner. When you need sound legal advice from family law attorneys in Bergen County, NJ or Rockland County, NY, please call KGG to schedule a private consultation.