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Missing Spouse In A Divorce

Missing Spouse In A Divorce

As related to divorce, abandonment occurs when one partner intentionally leaves the other and marital (shared) property, physically separating from the couple’s home and the other spouse without their consent. Abandonment can also occur if one spouse withdraws financial support and affection or abuses the other spouse.

While abandonment may apply to all elements of divorce, desertion generally only applies to child custody. Under Colorado Statute § 19-3-604, desertion is:

  • A parent indicating they have no intention to participate in parenting the child or children
  • A parent giving up physical custody of a child for at least six months
  • One parent leaving the household where their children reside and not indicating if and when they will return
  • One parent refusing to assist in the financial well-being of the children
  • One spouse leaving the home and claiming they have no plans to return
  • One spouse leaving the home and giving no timetable or expectation for a return
  • One spouse cutting off all communication with the other spouse and the children
  • One spouse abandoning the responsibilities of parenthood
  • One spouse refusing to provide medical care for a disabled spouse
  • One spouse refusing to contribute to household finances and bills.

In Colorado, abandonment and desertion cannot be the bases for divorce. Under Colorado’s no-fault divorce law, Colorado Statute § 14-10-106, there must only be irreconcilable differences to justify filing for divorce. Irreconcilable differences usually mean substantial reasons which make continuing the divorce difficult or impossible. As a result, abandonment and desertion cannot be the justification for a divorce, but they can be supporting factors.

Colorado Missing Spouse in a Divorce Lawyers

If you or someone you know wants to get a divorce, but they cannot find their spouse, reach out Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC. Our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in multiple family law matters, including divorce, child custody, and more. We are zealous advocates and will fight for your rights.

Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC accepts divorce cases throughout the greater Denver metropolitan area including Jefferson County, Douglas County, Adams County, Arapahoe County, Boulder County, and Broomfield County. Call (719) 328-1616 to arrange a confidential consultation with Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC today.

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Information Center

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Effects Of Abandonment And Desertion On Divorce Proceedings

Divorce proceedings will commence even if one spouse is missing. As a result, decisions on significant divorce components such as child support, spousal support, child custody, and property division will proceed. However, the existing spouse’s grants will be different than they would otherwise be if the other spouse were present.

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Child Custody

In circumstances where one spouse leaves and disappears, it is obvious that the court will not give the missing spouse custody of the children. The remaining spouse will have custody as long as the missing spouse has been properly served notice of divorce proceedings. The remaining spouse may ask the court to declare the ex-spouse’s abandonment, strengthening the remaining spouse’s custody arguments should the spouse return and request custody. If one spouse leaves to avoid abuse, the court will also likely give custody to the departing spouse.

On the other hand, desertion does not mean that the spouse has disappeared and cannot be found, just that they have left the marriage, shared property, their spouse, and any children. Desertion may result in more favorable custody determinations for the remaining spouse. However, depending on the circumstances, like deserting to avoid abuse, the desertion may have a reduced impact.

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Property Division

Assuming that the spouse seeking divorce has followed proper notice and publication procedures, the court is more likely to grant the requests outlined in the initial divorce petition if the missing spouse has filed no response before the deadline.

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Child And Spousal Support

If a spouse has deserted or abandoned, it will be more difficult to obtain child or spousal support because they are missing or cannot be contacted easily. However, even if the support obligations cannot be fulfilled in the initial divorce petition, the remaining spouse may return to the court to ask that the court determine support obligations should the spouse find them later.

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How Does Divorce Work When I Cannot Locate My Spouse?

If the remaining spouse cannot locate the missing spouse, they may still file a divorce petition. The process involves filing the initial divorce petition, paying the associated fees, and submitting it to the court. After filing, the petitioning spouse must serve the divorce petition on the absent spouse. While serving the document directly to the absent spouse may be difficult or impossible, the court allows and requires that other service methods be attempted before proceeding with the case.

If the petitioning spouse cannot find their spouse, they may submit a request to the court asking to serve the absent spouse via publication. Service by publication allows the petitioning spouse to declare proceedings in a paper or other publication, which may put the other spouse on notice. The court will want proof that such actions are necessary and that sufficient publication attempts have been performed. The divorce publication must be run in the paper for a specific period. Service by publication allows the absent spouse to know that divorce proceedings have been filed against them and provide them the opportunity to respond. If the other spouse has not responded after the deadline, the court will move forward with the case without the absent spouse.

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Additional Resources

Colorado Family Law Forms – Follow the link provided to view important family law forms in a .pdf format. You can view forms for divorce, child support modifications, custody cases, child custody determination, and more.

Colorado Judicial Branch: Divorce – Access the Colorado Judicial Branch website to view frequently asked questions regarding the divorce process.

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Denver Missing Spouse in a Divorce Lawyer | Denver County, CO

The divorce process is complicated and challenging to manage, even in the best of circumstances. The representation must be carefully considered and thoughtfully executed when handling divorce proceedings because the stakes are high. If you are pursuing a divorce without a missing spouse, do not leave the results up to chance and hire an experienced family law attorney.

Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC is skilled in family law representation and can fight to obtain the best possible outcome for your case. Our office can aid you in the process of dissolving your marriage even if the other spouse is missing. If you live in Denver, Colorado Springs or the surrounding areas, call Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC at (719) 328-1616 today to secure a consultation.

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Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC