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Is It Possible to Divorce Someone Without Their Knowing?

A Texas man is being sought by authorities after he allegedly fraudulently finalized his divorce without his wife’s knowing it. Investigators say he provided false information and forged documents to a district court in Houston. Now, not only has the divorce been set aside due to fraudulent filings, but the man faces criminal charges.

There are easier ways to go about a divorce, as our New Jersey divorce attorneys can explain in a free consultation. A spouse who is uncooperative, incapacitated or missing can delay a divorce – but they cannot prevent it entirely. It makes little sense to seek extreme measures to obtain a divorce and we can help you, even when your spouse won’t comply. Keep in mind that you do not need your spouse’s consent to get divorced. All you need to do is inform them of the process. Keep in mind however, you cannot deprive your spouse of a voice in the process if he/she wants to participate.

You Must Notify Your Spouse of Intent to Divorce

Your spouse has a right to be made aware of your filing and the opportunity to voice opposition to the terms.

In the event your spouse is not cooperative, incapacitated or you are unsure of their whereabouts, the process might take longer, but it is possible. There are different ways to inform a spouse of a pending divorce, and with the Court’s permission alternate means may be permitted if you do not know where your spouse is. It’s best to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer.

You will need to show the Court that you exercised due diligence in trying to locate your spouse and gave them a fair chance to respond, per New Jersey Court Rules. The Court does not make it easy to divorce a spouse without their knowledge.

One has a certain amount of time from the divorce filing in which to serve notice to the other spouse. If the other spouse refuses to sign those papers and/or fails to respond to the proceedings, it may be possible to obtain a default judgment soon after – undermining the refuser’s rights to spousal support, property and retirement benefits.

If your spouse is incapacitated, or becomes so during the proceedings, a guardian will need to be appointed to represent their interests, as noted in Kingsdorf v. Kingsdorf.

How Divorce Papers are Served in New Jersey

Proper service of divorce papers is essential to successfully obtaining a divorce.

The easiest way to prove this to the Court is if your spouse signs and dates an acknowledgement or if a process server files an affidavit of service with the Court.

If your spouse refuses to acknowledge service – or is intentionally avoiding service altogether – there are a few other ways they can be served. These include:

  • Service by mail. Sent to either your spouse or his/her divorce attorney, it is simple and cheap and can get the job done, but it may not be the fastest way if your spouse is uncooperative. If he/she does respond or acknowledge service, you are still required to show service by another method because the Court cannot enter a default judgment of divorce – sometimes the only thing that compels an uncooperative spouse to answer divorce papers - if service of process was completed by mail.
  • Service by sheriff in the county where your spouse resides. This is likely less expensive than using a process serving company, but you will have to pay mileage and other fees. You also must be sure to properly prepare all documents, including a cover letter, copies of the divorce complaint and summons. Your divorce lawyer can help ensure the paperwork is properly prepared.
  • Hire a process serving company. There are many providers for this service, and they may get it done faster than the sheriff’s office – but they charge a fair price for it.

The good news is you do not have to cite – or prove – any specific grounds to obtain a divorce, as New Jersey is a no-fault state. All that must be asserted is irreconcilable differences. If you are having issues serving your spouse, or your spouse refuses to cooperate with moving the divorce forward, call us for a free consultation. We can help you move the process forward so you can move on with your new life.

Call Rozin|Golinder Law, LLC today for a free and confidential consultation.

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