Many times a person will want to file for divorce in Texas, but they do not know where their spouse is and do not know how to serve them. Below are your options.
1. Search, Search, Search
First you must exercise due diligence in locating them. Due diligence means using any means you can to find them. Call family and friends, perform an internet search on them or their family members, look in phone books, etc… You have to do everything you reasonably can to find them. I do not think you are required to hire a private investigator, but some courts may require this.
2. Service by Publication
Service by publication is basically a newspaper add in a newspaper stating that you have sued someone. It is designed with the thought that the person will read the newspaper and then be put on notice. This form of service must be used in divorces with property and/or children.
3. Service by Posting
If there are no children of the marriage, and no property to divide, you can serve someone by “posting”. Posting is placing the petition for divorce on the courthouse steps. Again, this is designed with the idea that the person would see it and have notice of the suit. You will need some extra documents in this type of divorce so consult an attorney for assistance.
4. Do they really get notice?
Obviously under each of the above service styles (publication and posting) the person will most likely not get notice. However, the Courts and the legislature have said that this is sufficient notice of the pending lawsuit to satisfy the court that they have been “served”. To qualify for this type of service you must show the court that you exhausted all means under Section 1. If you can do this, the court will deem that service and you can proceed with the Texas divorce.