It is seen that sometimes married couple drift apart without even divorce, it happens mostly in young marriages or when the marriage is the only option in a particular situation. Until one of the spouses think to marry again and realize some paperwork needs to be done, none of them bothers where the other partner is. In India, only an unmarried person can marry so in such case also to get married again you have to be unmarried again otherwise you shall be charged bigamy. If you do not have information about the existence of your partner and can’t file a divorce petition against him/her then you can get divorce through a special procedure known as substituted service.
Substituted service is granted in a case where one of the spouses’ whereabouts is not known. In such cases, an application is written to the court asking for the substituted service, generally before the divorce petition is issued. The plaintiff must submit an affidavit in a court of law showing that several attempts have been made to locate the other spouse and measures taken learn about their whereabouts but no clue found. The only method left of serving the petition was substituted service but also, before applying for substituted service you must have to at least:
- Find out the missing spouse’s last known address (court will ask you how, when and from whom you get it).
- Search at that address about the whereabouts of your spouse and ask from people living there or neighbors.
- Contact every relative, friends, past employees and other people you think might be having his/her information because in the court, you need to submit a summary of your efforts made to find your spouse, attached with the affidavit. Mentioning the dates, names, and output of your efforts.
- Try to find him online on social media sites tracing his last activation on a particular social media site.
- Contact a tracing agent, and try your best level to find him/her out.
All of these efforts will be made to show the court that you couldn’t serve the petition to your partner in person and thus, you have applied for substituted service. In a proper case, the court will verify all of your efforts and then, itself try finding out your spouse at first through the newspaper publications, online, e-mail, etc. The method of searching by court will depend upon the facts of the case. The court will also decide the period of time under which the intention to defend will be served.
After the court search and verification is over and your efforts are proven then the court can give orders for the dissolution of your marriage, which will be followed up by the division of property, assets and debts, child custody, etc.