We had a female client recently, we’ll call her Lisa for the purposes of this article, whose husband of ten years left the home without notice, just leaving a brief note to say he was leaving and not coming back. The parties own a home and have two children together.
Months went by and the Husband made no contact with Lisa, and no amount of asking relatives or friends turned him up. Finally, not knowing what to do, she called our office wondering if she could even file a divorce since she could not find him anywhere.
We reassured her that, in Nevada, the law allows for being able to obtain a divorce even in these circumstances. This is how to obtain a divorce when your spouse has disappeared.
We do it in this way:
- We file a one-signature divorce on behalf of the Plaintiff and get a Summons issued.
- We then do a skip-trace to attempt to find the Defendant (the missing spouse).
- If he or she cannot be found that way, we will obtain an affidavit of due diligence. Based on that, we’re able to get an order to publish from the judge.
- Once publication has taken place, once a week for five weeks, we are able to submit a Default to the court on Day 22 after the last date of Publication, if the Defendant has not filed an Answer in court.
- Once the Default has been granted, we submit the final decree of divorce for the judge’s signature.
- After the judge has signed the decree, the court clerk files it and the divorce becomes final.
Because Lisa owned a home with her husband and had two children with him, we also did the following:
- Obtained an Order from the judge to allow the judge’s clerk sign a Quitclaim deed that transferred ownership of the parties’ house to Lisa only.
- Obtained full physical custody of the parties’ children for Lisa. If her spouse, the children’s father, ever wants visitation, he will have to petition the court. Both parties still retained legal custody as this is a separate matter from physical custody and must be addressed separately.
- Once the divorce was granted, we forwarded a copy of the final decree of divorce to the District Attorney’s Family Support Division so that Lisa could get child support for the children. The District Attorney’s office has many investigative resources and powers to find Lisa’s husband. Once they do, they will garnish his wages, suspend his licenses, or attach any IRS refund due him to cover any child support due to Lisa for the children of the parties.
In addition to all of this, though this didn’t happen in Lisa’s case, the judge might order a Plaintiff to pay a private investigator to find the missing spouse. Also, if there is equity in the house owned by the parties and it gets sold by the Plaintiff, the judge might also order the Plaintiff to keep Defendant’s share in a separate account for him or her, for at least a period of about a year.
Author: Office of Attorney James E. Smith — http://nevadadivorce.org/about_nevada_divorce.htm