Florida Divorce Cannot Locate Spouse

by Roberto from Jacksonville, Florida, Duval County

I need to get a divorce but I cannot locate my ex-wife. I got married in 1999 in Yonkers, New York and in 2001 I find out that my wife was cheating on me.

When I caught and confronted her cheating on me she started abusing me with verbal abuse.

I had to get a domestic violence report and order protection against her and her boyfriend since I was beat/hit by her.

After that incident, I moved to Jacksonville, Florida. I need to get divorced and I want to find out if I can file for Florida constructive service divorce?

Answer to Florida Divorce Question

Dear Roberto,

Since you now live in Florida and have lived here for over six months you can file for divorce here.

The constructive service divorce is only used if you do not know where she is located.

Your first step is to conduct a search for your wife.

You will be using the Florida Supreme Court approved Form 12.913(b), Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry.

The form includes a list of places where you must diligently search, such as the military, hospitals, last known address, relatives, prisons, utility companies, etc.

Keep a record of telephone calls you make while trying to locate her; copies of letters you send out in trying to locate her; and any responses that you receive.

The second step is to file that Affidavit with the clerk of the court, along with another form - Notice of Action, Form 12.913(a).
The instructions for the Notice of Action form state:

This form may be used to obtain constructive service (also called service by publication) in a dissolution of marriage case if you do not know where your spouse lives or if your spouse lives outside Florida and you are unable to obtain personal service.

However, if you use constructive service, the court may grant only limited relief because its jurisdiction is limited.

For example, the court can grant your divorce but cannot decide issues of child support, spousal support (alimony), or division of property or debts.

This is a complicated area of the law and you may wish to consult an attorney before using constructive service.

Many times people locate their ex-spouse during the search, and so constructive notice is not necessary. Also, it is stated in the instructions for the Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry form, that although you do not need to search in each place listed, you must make a wholehearted attempt to locate your ex.

Notice: We provide these answers to the general public and our website visitors as a means to further their online legal research. These answers are merely suggestions and should not be regarded as legal advice.

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