By Marion TD Lewis

The other day, someone emailed to ask me how to file for divorce in a newspaper. “Good question,” I thought.

Well, first, by “file for divorce in a newspaper” I am thinking you mean “serve your spouse the divorce papers by publication.” If that is the question, then you should know that, first of all, a judge has to give you permission.

You can’t just take it upon yourself to file for divorce in a newspaper. And the judge is not going to give you permission to file for divorce in a newspaper unless you can show that you have exhausted all your other options.  So first try to serve your spouse in person and if you just can’t find him or her, go back to court and request permission, usually by motion which is done by your divorce lawyer, to file for divorce by taking out a newspaper ad.

You will usually be told which papers you can use in the judge’s order and then you have to contact the newspapers for rates and to give them the relevant info about the case including your name, your spouse’s name and the index number for the case and things like that.

Filing for divorce in a newspaper is not a very “private” thing. Everybody in the entire vicinity of where you live (or where your spouse lives) who read the paper will know about it and if it is a national paper, even worse. So you should factor that into your calculus. (The ad will be put in the “Legal Notices” section of the paper though so most people who read the paper probably don’t even look on that page.)

When the ad has run its course, you will need to take your proof of publication, an affidavit from the paper, to the court.

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