If you are unaware of your spouse’s whereabouts, or if your spouse refuses to respond to your request for a divorce, you can still get divorced. In New York State, you can obtain what is called a divorce by default. This means that your spouse does not respond to the papers that you serve them, that they do not hire an attorney and that they do not appear in court. In these types of situations, you must prove to the court that your spouse received the documents, or that you made every possible attempt to notify your spouse that you are filing for divorce. If you cannot serve the papers on your spouse or on any person that can notify your spouse, you may still be able to obtain a divorce through a process called divorce by publication.
In a divorce by default, the person filing for divorce will get everything they ask for.
Even though a divorce by default may be the only solution for some people, it is not always the best option. If your spouse suddenly reappears, even after you obtain the divorce by default, they can ask the judge to “re-open” the divorce. Your spouse will have to have a very good reason for not responding the first time around for the judge to agree to do this, however.
If you are in a situation that requires a divorce by default, please call our office and we can give you a more in-depth consultation on your specific case.