Let's get this straight from the get-go. There is no such animal as a publication divorce in Georgia, nor is there "divorce by newspaper ad." Divorce is divorce, requiring a court action, notice to the other spouse, and a judgment issued by the Georgia court. Just like you cannot tie the knot and enter into legal marriage without some type of ceremony, you cannot sever your spousal ties to someone by deciding you want to and taking out a notice in the newspaper. But publication of the divorce can help move your divorce along in Georgia by giving your spouse the notice that the law demands.
Divorce Basics in Georgia
If you or your spouse has lived in Georgia for six months or more, you can file for divorce in Georgia. Start the procedure by filling out a written petition providing basic information about the case, such as names, addresses, your kids' names and birth dates and why you are divorcing. Georgia has no-fault divorce, where you can divorce just because you do not want to live together any more. But in Georgia, you can also file for a divorce based on the other spouse's bad behavior that makes the marriage difficult. This is called fault divorce. Once the court clerk stamps the papers, including a summons notifying the other party of the date he must file a response, you must "serve" the divorce papers on your spouse.
Divorce by Publication in Georgia
Part of the cost of divorce in Georgia is getting your spouse served with the divorce papers, and this can be considerable if you have to track him down. Legal service means that the person must actually get the papers. It doesn't just mean leaving a copy of the papers in the mail box, but usually requires paying a process server to hand the papers to him personally, called personal service. Once personal service is accomplished in Georgia, the person doing the service must file a paper with the court under penalty of perjury saying where and when the spouse was served.
If you can't find your spouse, or he successfully evades your attempts at service, it becomes more difficult to continue with the divorce.
Accomplishing Divorce by Publication
The term "divorce by publication in Georgia" actually means accomplishing service on your spouse by filing notice in the newspapers. It is not just available in divorce cases, but in any other cases in which the person you want to sue evades process or disappears.
In Georgia, service of divorce "by newspaper ad" can happen when your spouse lives outside the state, has left the state or cannot be located despite efforts to find him (termed"due diligence.") It is also available if a person you need to give court papers conceals himself to avoid the service of the summons. If that is the case in your divorce, you have to file an affidavit or a sworn pleading stating the facts of the matter. The Georgia court can authorize by written order that the service can be made by the publication of summons.
For service by publication in Georgia, the clerk of court orders publication of the summons in the newspaper four times, a week apart, in the next 60 days. The published notice has to have the names of the parties, the court, and the fact that it involves a divorce action. It also includes notice to your spouse that he must file an answer to the complaint within 60 days of the date of the order for service by publication. The court will mail a copy of the notice and the order to your spouse's last known address, as well.
If your spouse still doesn't answer the divorce complaint, you can proceed under Georgia divorce law as if he had been personally served. That means that you can file paperwork required to obtain a default divorce.