Texas Divorce Procedures for a Missing Spouse

By Kay Lee

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There are times when a spouse wants a divorce, but the other spouse has either disappeared or moved out of state. The location of the other spouse will not affect a spouse's ability to request a divorce; it simply alters the protocol a bit. State law governs divorce actions. Accordingly, Texas has special procedures for estranged couples seeking a divorce.

Locating an Estranged Spouse

Prior to seeking a missing spouse divorce in Texas, you must attempt to locate them. You should begin by contacting the U.S. Postal Service and your missing spouse’s relatives, last known home address and last known place of employment as well as search the Yellow Pages and conduct Internet searches. Once this search has been exhausted, if the missing spouse still cannot be found, you must execute an Affidavit of Diligent Search, which you will submit to the court when you file your petition for divorce.

Missing Spouse Divorce Without Children

If you do not have any children with your missing spouse, you must file an Affidavit for Citation by Publication and Diligent Search, a Supporting Affidavit for Citation by Publication, a Certificate of Last Known Address and a Statement of Evidence, which sets forth the reasons for divorce in the family law court in the county where you reside as well as execute divorce papers. Since your spouse is missing, the court will post this summons at the court; it will qualifies as service of process, which is the legal term for notice. The missing spouse has 60 days to respond to the notice. If he does not respond, the divorce will be finalized during a hearing scheduled by the judge.

Missing Spouse Divorce With Children

If you have children with your missing spouse, you must file all of the same documents as you would if seeking a missing spouse divorce without children. Texas law, however, requires you to make a greater effort to locate your estranged spouse. In addition to conducting a diligent search, Texas requires your notice be published in a publication that is local to the last known address of the missing spouse. If the missing spouse does not respond to the publication’s notice by filing a response or attending the previously scheduled hearing, the divorce will be finalized during the hearing.

Texas Residency Requirements

In order to file for divorce in Texas, you must have lived there at least six months before you file for divorce. If your spouse lives in Texas and you reside out of state, you are required to file for divorce in the county where he lives. If you live outside of Texas and you are seeking a missing spouse divorce, you may wish to file for divorce in your state.