You are correct that you will have to serve him by publication (a legal “ad” in the newspaper) if you cannot locate an address for him with due diligence. Also be sure to check jail/prison records and obituaries.
NC statute dictates the language to be used in the legal “ad.” Take a look at our Notice of Service of Process by Publication.
The Notice must run once a week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper that is qualified to run legal advertisements. The newspaper must also service an area that your husband is thought to be or in the area of his last known address.
Once the Notice has run, the newspaper will send you an actual clipping on the newspaper, and you must file it with the court along with an Affidavit of Service by Publication.
You can check with the vital records office of the state in which you were married about whether or not they have notice of a divorce. You can also check in the clerk’s office of the county in which you live or in the county in which you think your husband might live, if you know.
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