Divorce can be messy.  And if you are in an abusive relationship or were in the past, you rightfully wouldn’t want to have to see or talk to your soon to be ex.

I’ve noticed an uptick in people who want a divorce, but don’t want to tell their spouse about it. Many of these people have been lead to believe that they can get divorced by placing an ad in the local newspaper.  They are not correct.

In Illinois you can get divorced by publication, but only after a Judge grants you permission to do so. To do that you must first file for divorce and then show up to court.  At that point you have to convince the Judge that you have no idea where your spouse is or how to contact them.  You have to show the Judge all of the efforts you have made to contact your spouse.

These efforts include sending notice to their last known address, texting them, calling them, seeking out contact information from their relatives and friends, contacting their last known employer, etc.

In other words, you can’t pretend like you don’t know how to find them.  If their name is James Smith and you haven’t seen them in ten years, it’s one thing, but if it’s a unique name then finding them on social media is likely possible.  The Judge wants to see a good faith effort and proof that you’ve been diligent in trying to serve them with notice of the divorce.

So if you’ve done all of these things and a Judge really believes you can’t find them then they will grant you permission to get divorced by publication.  Even that takes time and costs money.  You have to publish three straight weeks in a newspaper local to the county where the case is taking place.

Even with all of that, while you can get a divorce, a Judge is not going to make final rulings on child custody, support or division of property.  So while you may be divorced, you really aren’t done.

To me, the best thing to do in a case like this is to get an experienced divorce lawyer to help you find and serve your spouse so you can be divorced and through with them for good.  If you would like a recommendation to a top family law attorney for Illinois, call us at 312-346-5320 any time.  We are attorneys who recommend lawyers independent of our firm that we think are best for you based on what you tell us about your case.