My husband left me and I don’t know where he is. Can I get a divorce? This blog originally appeared on NJMoneyHelp for NJ.com by Karin Price Mueller on June 15, 2020.
Q. My husband left me two years ago and I have no idea where he is. We own our house together and an investment account, and we each have 401(k) plans. What can I do to divorce him and what property will I get?
— Still married
A. You don’t need your husband’s participation or consent to get a divorce.
What you do need to do, though, is provide him with notice of the filing for divorce.
Once the complaint for divorce is filed, your husband would need to be served with the complaint so that he would have the opportunity to respond, said Jeralyn Lawrence, a family law attorney with Lawrence Law in Watchung.
“If we are unable to find him despite a robust diligent inquiry as to his whereabouts and a search of his last known address, we would need to get a court order to serve him by `publication’ which is through an ad in the newspaper,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence said once notice about the filing of the complaint is provided, the proposed final judgment of divorce would outline your proposal on how to divide the equity, if any, in the house. It would also address how to divide the investment account and both 401(k)s, or it would indicate each spouse would retain their own accounts if that is a fair distribution.
The court would consider the proposed allocation of the assets and a divorce would be granted to you on a default basis, she said.
“The final judgment of divorce would indicate that you are divorced and that your husband was notified of the proceeding and the proposed distribution of assets and failed to appear and your divorce judgement would terminate your marriage and allocate your assets,” Lawrence said.