Frequently, once a couple decides that a marriage is no longer working, the parties will choose to file for a divorce as soon as possible. For many reasons, some couples may choose to separate indefinitely without filing for a divorce, and it may be years before a spouse is ready or able to file a Maryland Complaint for Absolute Divorce or a Maryland Complaint for Limited Divorce.
If a married couple is separated for a long period of time, it may be difficult for the spouse seeking a divorce to locate the missing partner. The party seeking a divorce may find that their former partner travels frequently due to work or does not have a stable residence. They party seeking a divorce may even find that the former partner is actively avoiding service in order to stay married.
If you are pursuing a Maryland divorce and you can’t find your spouse, normal methods of service may not work for your situation. If after a diligent search you are unable to locate your missing spouse, you may petition your local Circuit Court to allow you to serve your Complaint for Divorce by one of the Maryland methods of alternative service.
Maryland Methods of Alternative Service in Montgomery County, Maryland and Prince George’s County, Maryland
In domestic cases, such as divorce and child custody, there are two methods of alternative service in Maryland. Both Maryland methods of alternative service have specific requirements to be completed properly:
- Service by Publication. Maryland Service by Publication includes publishing a notice of the divorce as required in a circulated newspaper in your local county.
- Service by Posting. In Maryland, Service by Positing is the posting of the notice by the sheriff at the courthouse door or a courthouse notice board.
In order to serve your spouse by alternative service, you must show that you made diligent good faith efforts to locate and serve your spouse through standard methods of service, and even after your reasonable efforts you are still unable to find and properly serve your husband or wife.
What is a diligent search and how do I conduct a diligent search for my missing spouse in Prince George’s County, Maryland and Montgomery County, Maryland?
In Maryland, to conduct a diligent search, you must genuinely pursue all reasonable and discoverable leads. The following is a non-exhaustive list of actions your Maryland Circuit Court may require before granting your Maryland Motion for Alternative Service and allowing you to serve your spouse by publication or posting:
- File a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request
- In cities where your spouse last resided, contact the U. S. Postmaster for forwarding addresses
- Search Department of Motor Vehicle Records
- Search the Maryland Judiciary Case Search or the Maryland Electronic Courts Database
- search phone directories of the cities and towns of your spouse’s possible residence
- Search public records of the tax collector and assessor
- Ask the Respondent’s former neighbors and last known associates
- Check with utility companies, including water, sewer, cable, TV, and electric, in areas of likely residence
- Contact your spouse’s last known employer
- Contact and use private investigators to conduct more in-depth searches
What if you still can’t find your missing spouse and you live in Prince George’s County, Maryland and Montgomery County Maryland?
If you are unable to locate your spouse after your search, and you want to obtain a divorce in Maryland, you should consult with an attorney to better understand your available options. There are strict and specific requirements for obtaining and properly using Maryland methods of alternative service. Contact the Law Office of LaSheena M. Williams, and our office will work to ensure that every step of your divorce case is skillfully handled. If you need assistance, please call our office at (301) 778 – 9950 or leave an online request for a consultation for more information.
Our firm passionately represents clients across Rockville, Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Chevy Chase, College Park, Cheverly, Greenbelt, Oxon Hill, Hyattsville, Upper Marlboro, Largo, Bowie and surrounding communities.