When a divorce is filed, the court seeks to ensure that the Respondent has received proper notification of the lawsuit. Florida family law form 12.913(b) Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry, is used in conjunction with family law form 12.913(a)(1)Notice of Action for Dissolution of Marriage with no Child(ren) or family law form 12.913(a)(2) Financial Support or Notice of Action for Family Cases with Minor Child(ren) in order to obtain service by publication, or constructive service.
When is Constructive Service Appropriate?
Constructive Service is used when you are unable to locate your spouse; while it takes extra effort and step, you may be able to obtain a default divorce, providing all paperwork is properly filled out and filed and you have met all the requirements for diligent search and inquiry. Once you have filed your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, you are then required to search for your absent spouse, beginning at his or her last known address. If your spouse has moved, and did not provide you with a forwarding address, you must resort to Internet searches, questioning friends and family of your spouse, and even searching social networking sites in order to show the courts you have made a serious, good faith effort to locate your spouse.
Should you simply not be able to find your spouse in order to serve him or her with the divorce petition and summons, you must then prepare and file a sworn statement telling the court that, despite your most diligent efforts, you are unable to locate your spouse. This is the Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry. You must disclose the last known address of your spouse to the court and will be required to check the actions taken in order to locate your spouse. Some of those actions listed on the Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry include the following:
• Last known employment of Respondent, including name and address of employer
• Names and addresses of relatives, and contacts with those relatives
• Telephone listings in the last known locations of Respondent’s residence
• Highway Patrol records in the state of Respondent’s last known address
• Department of Motor Vehicle records in the state of the Respondent’s last known address.
Having Your Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry Notarized and Filed
You must have the Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry notarized, then provide the original to the court clerk in the county where you filed your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Within 60 days of the time you file your sworn statement, the court may choose to issue a Notice of Action, which allows you to publish information regarding your pending divorce in a local newspaper in the legal section. The court will give you the information you need in order to ensure you meet all publication rules, and you will be responsible for any publication fees.
Preparing and Filing Your Affidavit of Publication
Next, you must prepare and file an Affidavit with the court which states the information you included in the publication notice, the dates of publication and the newspaper in which it was published, no less than 28 days following the first date of publication. Attach a copy of the actual, published notice with your Affidavit. If the court concludes after the necessary paperwork, publication and time, that you have made a good faith effort to locate your spouse, a default judgment may be entered, granting your divorce. Keep in mind, that if it is found later that you did not actually follow the steps required to attempt to locate your spouse, your default divorce judgment could be set aside and you will be required to start all over.
Why You Should Call The Law Place
Of course you can file your own divorce, conduct your own search for your missing spouse and follow all the necessary steps to satisfy constructive service, however you may find that the time and effort involved may simply not make sense when you can hire an experienced Florida family law attorney. The attorneys at The Law Place have been helping those going through a divorce for over two decades. We understand the difficulties you face, and can take the legal burden away from you, ensuring all legal requirements are met and your rights are fully protected. We can prepare all your divorce documents and deal with the requirements of publication, freeing your time for your day-to-day responsibilities. Call The Law Place today for a free consultation and a comprehensive evaluation of your divorce case.
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Florida Family Law Forms—Service
The Divorce Process
Florida Divorce Advice
Your Rights in Your Florida Divorce
A Guide to Florida Divorce
What You Must Know About Your Florida Divorce