Is it Possible for a Husband to Divorce His Wife Without Her Knowing it in the State of Virginia?

By Heather Frances J.D.

You and your spouse don’t have to agree to get a divorce. You can contest a divorce he seeks, disputing information in his court petition. In the alternative, you can consent to the divorce to make the process quicker. No matter how you choose to respond, your spouse must provide proper notice of the pending divorce action or a Virginia court will not grant the divorce. However, if you cannot be located, the court may allow your spouse to serve you by publication in a newspaper. In this case, your spouse could get a divorce without your knowledge.

You and your spouse don’t have to agree to get a divorce. You can contest a divorce he seeks, disputing information in his court petition. In the alternative, you can consent to the divorce to make the process quicker. No matter how you choose to respond, your spouse must provide proper notice of the pending divorce action or a Virginia court will not grant the divorce. However, if you cannot be located, the court may allow your spouse to serve you by publication in a newspaper. In this case, your spouse could get a divorce without your knowledge.

Due Process

Virginia law requires courts to observe a defendant’s due process rights in any legal action. Due process means you, as the defendant in your spouse’s divorce lawsuit, have the right to be notified about the pending lawsuit and the right to defend yourself. Virginia law establishes procedures intended to make legal processes fair for both parties. A Virginia court does not issue decisions until the procedural protections have been followed.

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Personal Service

One way Virginia law provides due process is by requiring the plaintiff to serve the defendant with a copy of the divorce papers. Your spouse can have a process server or a local sheriff serve you. If you are willing to accept service by having the documents mailed or by going to the court to accept the documents, your spouse will not have to have you served. Any of these methods give you the opportunity to see the lawsuit against you and respond if you choose.

Service by Publication

If your spouse does not know where you live, he may be permitted to serve you by publication, but only as a last resort. If your spouse receives permission from the court to serve you by publication, it is possible you won’t know about the divorce. Virginia, like most states, allows service by publication to ensure that people can get divorced even when their spouse’s whereabouts are unknown.

Default Divorce

If your spouse correctly serves you with the divorce paperwork, even if the service is done via publication, he can proceed with his case. If you do not respond to the divorce petition, the court likely will issue a divorce decree and conclude the case without your input. This is called a default judgment and it usually means your spouse will get whatever he asked for in the divorce petition. It is difficult to reverse a default judgment after it has been issued and there may be a high burden of proof if you seek to have it reversed.

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Can a Person File a Divorce & Get It Granted if They Don't Find the Spouse in New Jersey?

References

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Texas Divorce Laws When a Respondent Cannot Be Located

The typical divorce process requires you to serve your spouse with divorce papers, but you may not be able to get the papers to your spouse if you don’t know where he is. However, that doesn’t mean you have to stay married. Though it is more difficult to divorce when you cannot locate your spouse, Texas laws on service by publication and posting make it possible.

The Days to Serve Divorce Papers Has Past, Now What?

If you decide to end your marriage, filing the proper documents with the court is only the first step. An equally important step is giving your spouse official notice of the lawsuit. State law varies on the types of service of process permitted, but all require that it be accomplished within a limited period of time.

Alabama Divorce Via Default

Whether you cannot track down your spouse or he is completely unresponsive to your divorce complaint, you may still ask courts in Alabama to grant you a divorce without your spouse's input. A default divorce is granted when one spouse files for divorce but the other spouse does not file any documents with the court and does not show up to the final hearing. However, you must ensure that you properly notified your spouse about the divorce, or he may ask the court to void the default judgment.

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