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Divorce on the grounds of an absent spouse

On Behalf of | Oct 3, 2022 | Divorce

There are many reasons why a couple decides to get divorced in New York. They could have irreconcilable differences where they can no longer get along. Or they may have just grown apart with little animosity and a simple desire to move on with their lives.

There are, of course, other reasons for a divorce. If one spouse has simply disappeared and is absent from the other person’s life, this can be grounds to end the marriage. It is vital to understand the law in these circumstances and to consider the value of professional advice.

What are the specific laws for divorce on grounds of absence?

According to state law, a marriage can be dissolved based on a spouse’s absence. The case will be a special proceeding. It can be initiated in two circumstances: First, the petitioner for the divorce must be a resident of New York and has been such for a minimum of one year before moving forward; or if the matrimonial home was in the state when the other person disappeared.

There is a specific procedure that must be followed. In the petition, it must state that the person was absent for at least five consecutive years without the other spouse knowing where they are. They could say the person is presumed dead and that despite a search, there was no evidence to locate them. The court will then post the information in a newspaper for three consecutive weeks with a date when a hearing will be held.

These cases are complex because if the person just disappeared without anyone knowing where they are, they could reappear just as easily. It is impossible to know where they are, why they left and if they might come back. There have been newsworthy instances where a person was missing and thought to have died but they were eventually found alive and even remarried. Since there is a specific law for this type of case and a procedure that must be followed to get a divorce, it is wise to have assistance.

For divorce due to absence, having legal protection is imperative

Even though the absent spouse might not be available to lodge a case of their own over such issues as property division, support, child custody and more, it does not mean that the person who is initiating the divorce on the grounds of absence does not need legal help. These cases are unpredictable and it is possible that the absent spouse might turn up. This could cause disputes and require professional guidance to get through the case.

When planning to divorce because of absence, it is imperative to be legally protected. Perhaps the couple had substantial assets that need to be combed through or there might be minor children who the person who initiated the divorce wants sole custody of with no parenting time for the other parent if they happen to resurface. A business could be at stake. Debts could be left behind that the remaining spouse does not want to be responsible for. These cases are inevitable complicated. Calling for a consultation can give solace to the abandoned spouse and help them to achieve their goals with the divorce.