Divorce by Publication Law and Legal Definition

Divorce by publication is a divorce allowed in some states when the spouse cannot be located. It is governed by state laws, which vary, but generally require the spouses to have been living apart for a certain minimum amount of time.

Laws typically provide for the absent spouse to be served notice of the divorce by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the action is taking place. After the newspaper notice runs for the specified length of time, the plaintiff can obtain a divorce by default judgment if the other spouse fails to respond. Before allowing service of notice by publication, the court usually requires the plaintiff to first attempt to find their spouse and attempt to serve them with the divorce documents at their last known address, even if it is out-of-state or international.