What Happens if My Spouse Doesn't Sign the Divorce Papers

Maya Bhatiani Divorce and Family Law Solicitor
Author:
Maya Bhatiani
Senior Associate Solicitor, Family Law and Divorce
Date:
13/07/2020

If your ex-partner doesn’t respond to your divorce application or won’t sign the divorce papers, there are steps that you can take to get a divorce finalised.

It can be frustrating if your ex doesn’t respond to the Divorce Petition, but it’s important to try and remain logical and consider why they haven’t responded. Our Divorce Solicitors are experts in reducing conflict through the divorce process and can help to resolve issues between you and your ex.

If you can, you should try and reach out to your ex to understand why they haven’t responded. If that doesn’t work, your next step is to get legal advice. One of our Divorce Solicitors can draft your divorce application for you and offer guidance on what to do next when your ex fails to sign the divorce papers.

For initial legal advice contact our Divorce Solicitors.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

What can you do if you’re ex doesn’t respond to the divorce papers?

Step 1 - Make Sure Your Ex has Received the Divorce Papers

If your ex is the Respondent (the person responding to the divorce) they will be sent a copy of the Divorce Petition (form D8) which will include your reason for applying for the divorce, and an Acknowledgement of Service form. They need to return the form within 7 days if you’ve applied for you divorce online, or 8 days if the form is being returned through the post.

If your ex doesn’t return the Acknowledgement of Service form, you need to make sure that they have received the Divorce Petition. You should speak to your ex about this or instruct a Process Server to deliver the divorce papers in person.

Step 2 - Apply for Deemed Service

It’s not always easy to communicate with your ex whilst getting a divorce. But if your ex has told you that they know about the divorce in a text message or messenger app, you might be able to apply for Deemed Service.  One of our Divorce Solicitors can advise you whether or not these messages or emails will suffice, before you make your application.

Deemed Service is an application to Court that asks for the divorce process to go ahead even if the Court haven’t received the Acknowledgement of Service form. In your application you’ll have to show that your ex has told you that they’ve received the Divorce Petition.

A Judge will decide if the message is sufficient acknowledgement of the divorce papers and if so they will continue with your divorce application without the Acknowledgement of Service.

Step 3 - Instruct a Process Server

If your Deemed Service application is refused by the Court or you have no way to prove that your ex has received the divorce papers, your Divorce Solicitor or the Court can instruct a Process Server.

A Process Server is someone who will physically deliver the divorce papers to the Respondent. They can visit your ex either in their home, place of work or another known address and will give you a certificate to prove that they have delivered the Divorce Petition.

If you ex still refuses to respond, you can show the Court your Process Server certificate to prove that your ex knows about the divorce and has been properly served with the divorce papers. The Court should then allow the divorce process to move forward, once you have made an application for Deemed Service.

Step 4 - Use Alternative Service

The Process Server method doesn’t always work, for example if your ex-partner’s address can’t be found. Alternative Service means that you can ask for permission from the Court to serve the divorce papers through your ex-partners relative, or even their employer.

Speak to a Divorce Solicitor about the best way you can contact your ex.

Step 5 - Apply for Dispensed Service

If all else fails, you may be able to proceed with the divorce without your ex-partner’s response by making an application for Dispensed Service.

To make an application for Dispensed Service, you’ll need to show the Court that you have tried all other methods to contact your ex and inform them about the divorce. This application is rarely made and should be a last resort to getting your divorce.

Speak to a Divorce Solicitor

The steps we have listed above mean that you can get a divorce even if your ex won’t respond to the Divorce Petition, as long as the Court is happy that all means of notifying them have been exhausted. But making these applications can be a time consuming and expensive process, so it’s important that you get it right.

Our Divorce Solicitors are experts at handling any issues that may come up in your divorce. We can handle as much or as little of the divorce process as you would like and we will always be open and honest with you about our fees.

For initial legal advice call our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors

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