The Guide to Divorce by Publication in Florida

Divorce is an emotionally challenging journey, and it becomes even more complex when one spouse cannot be located or refuses to participate in the legal process. The good news is that if your spouse is unreachable or unresponsive to being served papers, you’re not stuck in your marriage. Divorce by publication may be an option to ensure your dissolution proceeds in a timely manner. 

This doesn’t mean to say divorce by publication in Florida is a simple matter. There are various nuances and conditions that you need to consider. Working with an attorney experienced in navigating the Florida family courts system is essential in these types of cases. Nevertheless, it's worth taking some time to get to know what divorce by publication is and how to utilize it effectively.

What is a Divorce by Publication?

In essence, divorce by publication is a family law mechanism that enables individuals to obtain a divorce when they are unable to locate their spouse or when their spouse refuses to participate in the divorce proceedings. For instance, if your spouse has absconded without leaving a forwarding address or they won’t accept service of divorce papers, this can be an option available to you.

It’s important to remember that divorce by publication — also sometimes referred to as service by publication — is not typically the first resort. Rather, it’s intended as an alternative method to stop people becoming trapped inside marriages due to their spouse’s actions. The Florida courts are unlikely to grant a divorce by this method if you haven’t exhausted other possibilities. Not to mention that certain eligibility criteria need to be met, which we’ll explore in the next section.

The publication aspect refers to the fact that you — or your experienced Florida family law attorney — will publish a notice of divorce in a recognized newspaper. Effectively, this takes the place of serving your ex with papers by ensuring that your intention to divorce is posted in a place that your ex might reasonably expect to have access to the information. Similarly, this publication provides them with an opportunity to respond and contest the terms of the divorce.

If there is no response to the publication, the court can proceed with the finalization process.

What Are the Qualifying Factors?

As mentioned in the previous section, divorce by publication in Florida is usually the last resort.  Indeed, not every situation qualifies for this process. Understanding the prerequisites is crucial if you’re considering utilizing this mechanism. Your attorney will be able to guide you through the specifics, but the general qualifying include:

Absent spouse

The primary qualifying factor for divorce by publication is the genuine inability to locate your absent spouse. You must be able to demonstrate that you’re made diligent efforts to contact them and serve them with divorce papers. It’s important to work with your attorney to make certain all reasonable attempts to contact your spouse have been made and that these have been recorded accurately so they can be presented as evidence to the courts.

Lack of response

Another key qualifying factor for divorce by publication in Florida is that your spouse has failed to respond to the divorce petition or taken steps to avoid being served with papers. This situation can arise when a spouse intentionally seeks to disrupt the divorce proceedings or when communication has completely broken down between the parties.It’s important to note that you’ll need to prove to the courts that you have properly attempted to serve papers to your spouse through a recognized process server or law enforcement.

Performance of database searches

If your spouse is absent or otherwise unreachable, alongside your personal attempts to contact them to serve papers, you’ll be expected to try to confirm their whereabouts through databases. This tends to include submitting a request for their current drive license records with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), local inmate searches for jails and prisons, and even confirming whether or not they have joined the military. Your family law attorney will be able to assist you in the best methods for accessing these databases.

What is the Process for a Divorce by Publication?

Once you and your attorney are satisfied that you have taken the necessary steps to locate or serve your spouse, you can then proceed with the process of divorce by publication. In Florida, there are specific actions that must be performed on the road to dissolution.

These include:

Filing the petition

The first step is to file a petition for divorce with the family court. As with any divorce, this should include all the relevant information, such as details of the parties involved, information regarding children and custody, and potentially terms of property division. However, alongside this, you must also provide and submit an Affidavit of Diligent Search. This provides the court with details of the measures you’ve taken to locate and serve your spouse in accordance with the eligibility requirements.

Publication of notice

After filing your petition and affidavit, the court will review the case. If they agree that you’ve taken all reasonable steps to locate your spouse, the judge will issue a Notice of Action. You and your attorney will then need to arrange for this Notice of Action to be published in a newspaper approved by the courts. It isn’t enough to publish this notice in the paper on a single occasion. You’ll need to ensure it is published for 28 consecutive days.

Default judgment

If your absent spouse fails to respond to the Notice of Action, your attorney can request for the court to proceed with a default judgment. This means that the court will grant the divorce based on the terms you’ve outlined in your petition, without your spouse’s input. However, it’s important to note that issues relating to custody can still be revisited and adjusted should your ex decide to bring these to court at a later date.

Final decree

Once the court accepts the default judgment, the judge will issue a final decree. This officially ends the marriage. The decree will also outline the full details of the terms of your divorce, including any custody and property information. It is vital that you and your experienced family law attorney review this decree thoroughly to ensure all elements have been covered.

How Long Does a Divorce by Publication Take?

The duration of a divorce by publication in Florida can vary depending on several factors. In general, you can certainly expect it to take longer than traditional divorces, as you’ll need to put in some work to commit the relevant searches and contact processes. Indeed, if these haven’t been performed to the satisfaction of the court, this could add to the time it takes to finalize. There can also be variations related to how busy the courts are. 

However, in most cases, the following time factors will apply:

  • Around 60 days between filing the petition and receiving the Notice of Action.
  • 28 consecutive days for the publication of the Notice of Action.

As a result, you’re usually looking at a time scale of between 8 and 12 weeks to complete a divorce by publication.

How Much Does a Divorce by Publication Cost?

Obviously, the costs of divorce vary on a case-by-case basis. Certainly, the more complex and nuanced a divorce is, the more work and therefore investment needs to be applied to it. The basic cost of filing for a divorce in Florida currently sits at around $408. On top of this, the publication of the Notice of Action in a newspaper for 28 days is likely to cost around $100. There can also be various administrative fees related to inmate searches, DMV records acquisition, and so forth. Indeed, in some instances there could be private investigator fees involved. It’s important to work closely with your Florida family law attorney as they can help you arrange for the most cost-effective approach to these elements that suit your needs.

Call The Family Law Attorneys Men Trust (813) 415-3510

In Law We Trust Divorce and Family Lawyers is a premier firm of divorce lawyers representing men in family law proceedings. We have years of experience representing men who are navigating divorce by publication and ensuring the processes and eligibility requirements are completed efficiently. Our team’s experience and skills help to guide our clients through the challenges of the Florida family law courts. Call us today and get the proper representation men need and deserve.



CALL NOW! (813) 415-3510

Call Now Button

Need Divorce Advice?