Although no law can force you to stay married to your spouse, he can make it difficult to divorce him if you can’t find him. The court can’t claim jurisdiction over your spouse and grant you a divorce unless and until he knows you’ve filed. All states allow you to use use “alternate service” to notify him when this happens. One method is to post notice of your divorce in the newspaper.
Exhaust every effort to locate your spouse. If you can afford a private investigator, and you know your spouse’s Social Security number, a professional might be able to track him down. If not, reach out to his family members, his last known employer and people in the neighborhood where he last lived. The court will expect you to make a diligent effort to find him.
File a complaint for divorce with the court. Most states will allow you to issue subpoenas, called "subpoenas duces tecums," to search for information pertaining to your divorce after you've filed. Check with utility companies and tax collectors for records of possible accounts in the name of your spouse. This might help you locate him. If you still can't find him, you’ve now got active litigation with the court so you can request permission to use an alternate means of service.
File a motion with the court where you filed your complaint. A motion asks the court to allow you to serve your spouse by publication. In most states, you’ll also have to submit an affidavit or certification explaining and documenting all your attempts to find him. You can usually find forms for these documents on your state's website or elsewhere online.
Take a copy of the judge’s order to the legal notice department of your local newspaper, if the judge grants your motion. Ask the newspaper to run notice of your complaint for divorce for the number of days required in the order.
Contact the newspaper after your notice has run the required number of days. The publisher must sign an affidavit confirming that this has occurred. The newspaper may submit the affidavit to the court for you, or you might have to pick up a copy and submit it yourself. After the notice has run, you can proceed with your divorce.