I cannot locate my spouse. One of the things I hear from clients is I cannot locate my spouse. That can be problematic and make your case more difficult. When you file a divorce, your spouse is entitled to notice of the case so that they can decide to participate. In the easiest of cases, your spouse is served by a process server or a local sheriff. If I am unable to locate my spouse, you are able to publish a notice of the case in a newspaper or other publication in a process called constructive notice.
How can I locate my spouse? In order for a court to allow you to publish notice or use constructive notice and avoid the need to locate your spouse, Florida law requires you to make a diligent search and inquiry in order to show the court and sign your affidavit that you took all reasonable steps to locate my spouse. The Court provides an Affidavit to fill out once you complete these steps. You can find the affidavit here. There are several avenues that the court suggests that you can take. Here are the different places that I can and should search if I am unable to locate my spouse.
- United States Post Office: Reach out to the USPS and request a Freedom of Information Act for the current address for your spouse.
- Last Known Address: Attempt to contact your spouse at their last known residential address.
- Last Known Employer Address: Attempt to contact your spouse at their last known employment address. If your spouse no longer works there, ask the employer where there W-2 forms were mailed, where their last paycheck was sent, or where any retirement/pension information from the employer was sent to.
- Government Agencies: If your spouse owns a car, consider reaching out to the Department of Motor Vehicles of the state’s Highway Patrol, or if you and your spouse have children or receive benefits from government agencies, Child Support Enforcement or other government agencies may have information on your spouse’s current address.
- Unions: If your spouse works in an industry, trade, or craft in which a union exists, contact the union in order to see if your spouse has their address on file with the union.
- Regulatory Agencies: If your spouse works in an industry, trade, or craft in which they need/have a license, such as a business license or a contractor’s license, contact the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to obtain information on your spouse’s current address.
- Friends and Family: Consider contacting mutual friends and family members who may have information about your spouse’s whereabouts, current address, or contact information.
- Social Media: Check social media platforms for any recent activity or location updates that may indicate where your spouse’s may be living or working.
- Obituaries: If you have not been in contact with your spouse for quite some time, you should consider reviewing obituaries about your spouse’s possible death.
- Hospitals: You should also contact local hospitals in the area of your spouse’s last known address to see if your spouse was ever admitted there and/or the address of where your spouse’s bills or other information were sent.
- Who’s In Jail: Search the county of your spouse’s last known address to see if they have been or are currently incarcerated. You should also consider searching the Department of Corrections in the state of your spouse’s last known address.
- Public Records: Search public records in the county of your spouse’s last known address for records such as property records or voter registration, which may contain your spouse’s contact information.
- Court Records: Search local court records for any ongoing or recent legal proceedings involving your spouse, which would include contact information for your spouse at the time of the filing of the legal proceedings.
- Internet Search Engines: Search online using your spouse’s name, previous addresses, or other identifying details to see if you can locate more recent information.
- Schools and Educational Institutions: If your spouse has children that reside with them, you should contact schools or educational institutions the children attend which may provide information about your spouse’s location.
- Local Community Organizations: Reach out and contact local community centers or religious organizations that your spouse may be associated with, such as a library, a church, or a support group.
- Private Investigator: Consider hiring a licensed private investigator who specializes in locating individuals.
If you cannot find your spouse, Florida requires you to take steps to try and locate your spouse using as many avenues as possible. Using these 17 insider tips will help you make sure you are using all possibilities to find your spouse. If you cannot locate your spouse, the Court will then allow you to publish notice or use constructive notice. Even if you are able to publish or use constructive notice, that process is not easy either.
For that reason, it is a good idea to meet with an experienced family law attorney who can either help you locate your spouse using the steps above, publish notice for you, and/or follow the appropriate legal procedures and steps for your divorce. To schedule a consult with our office, visit www.feherlaw.com or call us 727-359-0367.