deemed service

We see a wide range of responses from spouses receiving a divorce petition. This article looks at how ‘deemed service’ can help progress matters when one spouse won’t respond.

It is not that uncommon for an ex-spouse to fail to respond at all to the other spouse’s attempts to progress a divorce, or even official court documents. In that situation, what can you do?

What happens if your spouse won’t engage with your divorce petition?

The spouse trying to progress the divorce in this scenario can find themselves unable to move forward, as it is not possible to progress the divorce to Decree Nisi without the Court being sure that the other party has received the divorce petition.

In most cases this is not a problem as there is a standard form for the responding spouse to complete and return. However, in circumstances where the other spouse is not engaging or cooperating with the divorce proceedings, how can the divorce be progressed?

How can you progress the divorce if they won’t engage?

In some cases, the formality of a solicitor’s letter is sufficient to convince the other party to take the proceedings seriously. However, where non-engagement persists even once a solicitor is representing you, often the next best option is to pursue an application for deemed service.

What is ‘deemed service’?

An application to the Court for deemed service effectively means asking the Court to accept that, even though the responding spouse has not acknowledged that they have received the divorce petition, they have in fact been served with the petition. They ‘deem’ the spouse to have been served.

Where the Court deems a responding spouse to have been served with the petition, the spouse trying to progress the divorce may then apply for Decree Nisi despite the responding spouse not engaging.

However, the threshold to be reached in order to convince the Court to deem the other spouse to have been served is quite high. To be granted ‘deemed service’, it will be necessary to show that you have exhausted all other possible options of having your spouse served with the petition, in a detailed and comprehensive narrative, with evidence in support.

Whilst a spouse’s non-engagement with divorce proceedings can frustrate your attempts to progress a divorce, it is by no means an insurmountable obstacle.

You can contact our specialist and award-winning family team to discuss your options.