In most cases, getting a divorce in Pennsylvania is a straightforward activity. Either you and the other party both agree to a divorce and undergo normal proceedings, or one agrees and the other doesn’t, in which case a period of two years of separation must pass before a “no fault” divorce can be enacted, even without the consent of theother party.

But what do you do when you want to divorce someone that is not present? There may be some cases where a person has run away or even gone into hiding. If the person is not present to be served either separation notice or subsequent divorce papers, what happens then?

Diligent Search

In the case of wanting to divorce someone that cannot be located, the courts require what is called a “diligent search.” This means that you must present evidence that every reasonable effort was made to attempt to locate and track down the other spouse or partner and serve notice, but these attempts ended in failure. If at the end of this attempt, if there is no success, a process is known as Divorce By Publication can then take place.

In order to prove that a diligent search was conducted, you must show that at the absolute minimum you performed the following:

Tried to examine motor vehicle records, tax records, telephone directories and other legal forms of public inquiry.

Sought out and questioned co-workers, employers, friends and relatives of the person.

Consulted the post office and used the Freedom of Information act , 39 CFR part 265, in an attempt to find a forwarding address or other point of contact.

Once it has been established that you used all reasonable and legal means to attempt to locate the person and failed, an experienced divorce lawyer can help you through the process of divorce by publication. So even if a person can’t be found, you do still have options available to you.