How do I start a divorce proceeding if my spouse lives out of state or in another country?

In Minnesota, a divorce proceeding is initiated by serving a Summons and Petition.  The Summons and Petition is personally served on the other spouse which means the documents are physically handed to them (typically by a process server).

Some spouses run into the issue of where their spouse has moved out of state or out of the United States.  If a spouse cannot be found after good faith efforts to find the spouse, some courts may permit service by publication.

Serving by publication for out of state/out of country spouses

If a spouse has moved and cannot be found, they may be served by publication.  In order to serve by publication, the applying spouse needs to identify his or her efforts in try to locate their spouse.  Once a request is approved by a court, the contents of the summons will be posted in a county newspaper for a period of three weeks.  While this may be a costly process (service by publication may cost approximately $400), service by publication is sufficient to eliminate the need to personally serve the Summons and Petition.

Serving by publication for spouses that cannot be found in Minnesota

Even if a spouse has moved within Minnesota, there may be sufficient ground to request and receive the ability to serve a Summons and Petition by publication.

Serving by substitute service when personal service cannot be made

In the event a spouse is evading service or personal service cannot be made, the Minnesota rules of civil procedure permit substitute service which is personally serving the documents on a person of “suitable age and discretion” residing in the spouse’s residence.  In many cases, roommates, siblings, or parents may qualify for substitute service so long as they are living with the spouse being served.

Navigating a divorce proceeding and ensuring Minnesota has proper jurisdiction over your case may sometimes be difficult.  Please contact an experienced divorce attorney at Gilbert Alden PLLC for a free consultation regarding your situation.

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