What Is Divorce by Publication in Virginia?

couple filing for divorce by publication

Last Updated on April 2024

Divorce by Publication has been a helpful solution for those seeking to end their marriage under complicated circumstances. Usually, both spouses get divorce papers and can go to court. But if one spouse is missing, the court can use publication (a notice about the divorce is published in a newspaper for four weeks) to let them know about the divorce.

Here’s a general outline of how divorce by publication works:

  1. Diligent search: The spouse wanting the divorce must try hard to find the missing spouse. They search online, ask family and friends, and check public records. They keep records of these efforts.
  2. Filing the petition: After searching, the spouse files for divorce in a Virginia court. They include details about how they looked for the missing spouse.
  3. Notice by publication: If the court agrees that a good search was done, they allow a notice in a local newspaper. This notice tells the missing spouse about the divorce and gives them time to respond.
  4. Waiting period: After the notice, there’s a waiting time (usually a few weeks). This gives the missing spouse a chance to see the notice and respond.
  5. Default judgment: If the missing spouse doesn’t respond in time, the court can make decisions based on what the spouse seeking the divorce said. This is called a default judgment. The court decides on things like who gets what property, child custody, and support.

So, to sums everything up, divorce by publication is usually used when all other efforts to find and notify the missing spouse have failed. The court wants to make sure both sides have a fair chance to take part in the divorce. If the missing spouse later learns about the divorce and has a good reason for not responding earlier, they might be able to contest the default judgment.