A divorce dissolves a couple's legal relationship. For that reason, it is important that a spouse be made aware of the other spouse's intention to end the marriage. Without special circumstances, the courts will not move forward with a divorce until the spouse who filed for divorce provides proof that the non-filing spouse has been properly notified. Knowing what form this notice must take and when it might not be required will help reduce some of your uncertainty with the divorce process.
Although state laws can vary, it is usually the spouse who files for divorce who is required to deliver service of process on the other spouse. This means that a copy of the divorce paperwork must be hand-delivered to the non-filing spouse, generally by a sheriff or by another authorized process server. However, state law typically provides an exception to this rule if personal service attempts have failed multiple times and the spouse cannot be found. In this case, the court may allow you to publish notice in a local newspaper, instead. However, if you use notice by publication, some states will allow the court to only grant the divorce, and the court will not rule on matters related to property, spousal support and child custody until the missing spouse is found and can be personally served.