How can I serve my spouse divorce papers if I do not know where he or she lives?

Dec 10 2018

By: John Drapp

Posted in: Family & Divorce, Court


If you are starting a divorce action, Connecticut law requires you to serve your spouse with the divorce papers.  “Service” is the formal delivery of the papers.  In most cases, this means that a Connecticut State Marshal must deliver the papers to your spouse. 

The best way for the marshal to make service on your spouse is to physically hand the divorce papers directly to him or her.  This is called “in-hand service.”  An alternative is “abode service” which is when the marshal leaves the papers at the place where your spouse usually resides.  If the divorce is going to be amicable, your spouse also has the option of waiving formal service of the divorce papers.  This requires the execution of a form before a notary public.  But what if you do not know where you spouse lives?

One option if you do not know where you spouse lives is for the marshal to serve him or her somewhere else.  This may include his or her place of employment, or any other place that he or she may be predictably found (for instance, maybe your spouse has dinner at his mother’s house every Sunday at 4:00 pm). 

If you do not know where you spouse lives, works or can otherwise be found, service can also be made by publication.  In order to serve your spouse by publication, you must file a motion with the court detailing your efforts to find out where you spouse lives.  This may include contacting directory assistance, friends or relatives of your spouse, or his or her current or previous employers.  You must also specify in the motion what your spouse’s last known address was, and the name of a newspaper that circulates in the town of the last known address.  If the court grants the motion, you must then arrange to have the notice the court issues published in that newspaper. 

You can click here to download the motion you need for this purpose.  

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