Given the implications, divorce requires some element of cooperation from both parties. As a result, it is not normally possible to progress your divorce without providing the court with clear evidence that your spouse has received the divorce petition. Usually, this is not an issue and the spouse will return the ‘Acknowledgement of Service’ form confirming just that. However, issues can arise where you may not have their current address or you do but they refuse to confirm to the Court that the petition has been safely received.
Many people can become concerned that their spouse will purposely be uncooperative in an effort to undermine the process.
The courts are however aware of these issues and there are a number of methods to counter any such attempt.
In cases where your spouse fails or refuses to return the ‘Acknowledgement of Service’ (the form confirming they have received the divorce petition) a Process Server may be instructed to personally serve them with the notice of the proceedings. It is important to remember that as a party to the proceedings, service will not be successful if you deliver the documents to them yourself. Instead, the Process Server will produce an ‘Affidavit of Service’ when they have been able to successfully serve the divorce paperwork on your spouse.
Our team can then assist you with preparing the relevant court applications so your divorce can progress without further delay.
It can become more complex when your spouse’s whereabouts are unknown. Where there is good reason to believe they are still in the UK, an approach may be made to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) who, for a fee, are sometimes able to trace their address and ask that they to get in contact with us. This method is of little assistance where your spouse it unlikely to cooperate. If the DWP cannot assist and your spouse does not or will not respond, or there is a chance they may be living abroad, it may be advisable to instruct a private investigator to locate them. The process itself can be slightly more complex and time-consuming and, if legal advice is not taken at an early stage, can become more costly than necessary.
If you believe your spouse may be uncooperative or it will first be necessary to take steps to locate them, our team are able to help. Seeking advice at an early stage could make the difference between a slight delay and proceedings being stalled indefinitely.