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What if my spouse refuses to be served divorce papers?

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Family Law

Deciding to divorce is often one of the most difficult decisions to make. Once you are ready to get the process started, you might find the process grinding to a halt because your spouse refuses or evades service of the divorce petition.

This is not an uncommon situation and there are remedies the courts have put in place to address it. There are various reasons you may be unable to serve your spouse.

Why spouses sometimes refuse service

They might be intentionally avoiding service by evading a process server. Many spouses mistakenly believe that if they are never served divorce papers a divorce can never happen, but this is not true.

Sometimes a spouse cannot be served because they have moved or disappeared with no forwarding address.

If you try and cannot personally serve your spouse the divorce petition, Mississippi law allows them to be served by publication.

This means placing notice in the local newspaper and serving your spouse through that publication.

What you must prove before you can serve by publication

While this may sound simple, it can be more complicated than you believe. Before you take this step, you must prove that your spouse cannot be found and that you conducted a diligent search and inquiry.

This might mean you hire a private investigator and provide proof that they tried to find your spouse and could not.

Once the court is satisfied that you have completed these steps, you can run the notice. The notice must be printed for three weeks. If your spouse does not come forward or is not found 30 days after the initial date of publication, the court will consider them properly served.

This might sound like a lot of work that only prolongs the divorce process, and it is. However, if you are truly intent on getting divorced, you will eventually be able to, no matter how much your spouse tries to avoid it.