In every type of lawsuit, including divorces, you are required to serve the other party with notice of the proceedings by personally serving him or her with documents concerning the lawsuit. In some cases, however, you may not be able to personally serve his or her spouse after making several attempts to do so. In other cases, you may not have had contact with your spouse in a long time and simply do not know where he or she lives. In these types of extenuating circumstances, the court may permit you to finish your divorce by serving your spouse via certified mail or publication. However, mail or publication service is a complex matter, so you should always get advice from a divorce lawyer if you find yourself in this situation.

In order to serve your spouse by certified mail or publication, you must get a court order that permits you to do so. The judge will not permit you to serve your spouse in this manner if you haven’t made extensive good-faith efforts to personally serve him or her. For instance, if your spouse has deliberately concealed his whereabouts in order to avoid service or has left his or her last known address with no forwarding address, you may be able to get a court order allowing you to use an alternate means of service on your spouse. Likewise, if you truly have no idea where your spouse is living or where he or she works, the court may issue an order allowing you to serve your spouse by certified mail or publication.

Fortunately, Washington law does permit an individual to get divorced, even if he or she cannot locate his or her spouse. No matter the complexity of the issues in your case, we are here to help. The attorneys of Pacific Northwest Family Law have handled all cases involving all aspects of divorce and family law, including financial matters. Please contact an experienced Washington divorce attorney at our office if you have any questions about divorce or family law in the state of Washington.