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Long Island Divorce LawyerCan I Start an Action for Divorce if I Cannot Locate My Spouse?

When you think of a divorce on Long Island you may immediately think of a couple living apart for years, or a spouse slamming the front door on the way out never to be seen or heard from again. However, many couples about to go through a Divorce on Long Island still reside with one another in the marital residence. If couples do not reside together, the majority are at least aware of where the other lives. You may be surprised to learn that some couples actually have no idea where their spouse is. While you may be thinking “so what?” this can pose a problem for the spouse attempting to file for divorce, as the defendant spouse must be served with the divorce papers.

Service of Process in a Long Island Divorce Proceeding

After completing the necessary paperwork with your Long Island Divorce Attorney, one of the first steps to begin an action for divorce is service of the divorce papers upon the defendant spouse. The manner in which these papers can be served is governed by New York’s Civil Practice Law and Rules, and includes four different methods. The permissible methods are as follows:

  1. Personal service upon the defendant spouse him/herself
  2. Service upon a person of suitable age or discretion residing in the defendant spouse’s dwelling place or usual place of abode
  3. Affix and mail service, which includes affixing a copy of the summons to the defendant spouse’s actual place of business, dwelling place, or usual place of abode, as well as mailing a copy of the same to one of the above mentioned addresses
  4. Although not applicable in matrimonial actions without prior court approval, service may also be made upon an agent of the defendant spouse within the state.

Are There Alternative Methods of Service for Long Islanders?

In certain instances the above methods of service may prove to be unfeasible. In such cases the court has the discretion to order an alternative method of service. However, the court cannot order an alternative method of service on its own accord; rather, the party attempting to effectuate service must file a motion showing that service by the statutorily permitted methods is impracticable.

What Must be Shown to Establish Impracticability on Long Island?

New York’s Second Department has stated that impracticability does not require the moving party to show that “actual prior attempts to serve a party under each and every method provided in the statute have been undertaken.” State Street Bank and Trust Co. v. Coakley, 16 A.D.3d 403, 403 (2d Dep’t 2005). Rather, the only showing that must be made in the moving papers is one that, when supported by facts, tends to prove that service by a statutorily permitted method would be futile. Saulo v. Nuomi, 119 A.D.2d 657, 658 (2d Dep’t 1986).

What Does This Mean for My Long Island Divorce?

You should make every attempt possible to locate the whereabouts of your spouse before filing an order for alternative service with the court. While your Long Island Divorce Attorney is in the position to best advise you on what steps to take, the following are a few suggestions of agencies which you may consider contacting in an effort to obtain your spouse’s address:

  1. The Post Office: conduct a post office search for your spouse’s last known address(es). You may get lucky and find he or she left a forwarding address.
  2. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles: if your spouse has a driver’s license and notified the DMV of his or her relocation, it will have an updated address on file.
  3. The County Board of Elections: if your spouse is registered to vote, the county in which he or she is registered will have an updated address on file.

Additionally, the internet can be an extremely useful resource for locating individuals. The majority of people are not even aware that their personal information, such as their address, is accessible with a simple Google search. Therefore, there are a variety of avenues which need to be exhausted before it is likely a court will consider an order for alternative service. As always, be sure to discuss the specific facts and circumstances of your case with your Long Island Divorce Attorney.

Need Help? Long Island Divorce Attorneys are Here for You

If you need help locating your spouse to file your Long Island Divorce papers, the compassionate and experienced Long Island Divorce Attorneys at Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., PC are here to help. Contact us today at 631-923-1910 for a free consultation or fill out the short form on this page and we’ll get right back to you.

For more information about Divorce on Long Island, visit this page: Divorce Lawyers Answer Questions about Long Island Divorce