What to Do if Your Spouse Ignores Your Divorce Petition

Dealing with a divorce is never pleasant, but it’s even less so when your spouse is being uncooperative. Although it will be the responsibility of the court to serve your petition and any other accompanying documents, this doesn’t mean that your partner will play ball, and if they don’t, you may have to take matters into your own hands.

Divorce - iStock_000042589328_Medium

Once the initial document has been served, your spouse has seven days to return their Acknowledgement of Service form. This is their opportunity to formally state whether or not they wish to defend the divorce. Should they instead ignore it, you are left with no option but to choose another method of service, and there are four open to you. Here, we’ll briefly talk you through them.

Deemed Service

In some instances, you may be able to use alternative evidence to prove that the Petition has been received. This could be emails, letters, or even a post on Facebook alluding to the fact. If you feel that such proof exists, you can file an Application Notice requesting an order for deemed service, without having to personally pursue the matter.

Application for Service at an Alternative Address

If no such evidence exists, you can request service of the Petition at an alternative address where you feel that your spouse is more likely to open and acknowledge the document, such as their parent’s house, or perhaps a friend’s abode. This must be applied for through the courts.

Personal Service

If your spouse is refusing to respond to your Petition, you have the option to ask the court bailiff to act on your behalf. To do so, a form must be obtained from the government’s website and a photo and description of your spouse provided.

However, bailiffs will only serve if you do not have a lawyer acting for you. Where you do, you will need to enlist a process server, like ours in London, to act on your behalf. We will need a new copy of the Divorce Petition, alongside a Statement of Arrangements for Children (if any), a Notice of Proceedings, and a blank Acknowledgement of Service form. Using the information you provide us with, we will find your spouse and serve them. If we are successful in this endeavour, as we usually are, we will file a Certificate of Service acknowledging that this has taken place.

Gavel and judge

Application to Dispense with Service

If all attempts at serving continue to fail, you have one final option left open to you: an application to the courts to dispense with the need for service. A particular form must be filled in and sent, alongside a statement from you.

With these steps, a successful divorce can be set in motion.

Contact us today to learn more.

Photo: Envelopes by Kevin Steinhardt licensed under Creative commons 5
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