If you cannot find your spouse to serve them with the divorce papers, then you can serve by publication. You do this by publishing a notice in the local newspaper. Each county is different. Contact your county's circuit clerk to find out which newspaper to publish the notice in.
You can only use service by publication if you could not find your spouse after making good efforts to find them. This includes:
- Asking your spouse's family members, friends or coworkers if they know how to find your spouse
- Searching the internet
The court will ask you what you did so write down everything you did to try to find your spouse.
Note: If the spouse is not found by the time that the judge grants the divorce, the judge cannot decide on:
- Spousal support, also known as "alimony" or "maintenance"
- Child support
- Parenting time or visitation
- Division of property that is not personal property
- Division of property that is located outside of Illinois
If you find your spouse later, you can go back to court to have those issues decided.
But even if your spouse is still missing, you can ask the court to award you responsibility for your child (custody), if the child lives with you.