There are many positive changes that were brought in with No Fault Divorce as of 6 April 2022, and perhaps one of the most long-awaited is the option to serve the respondent by email – but will the change in legislation really make a difference?
As of 6 April 2022, how will I be able to serve the respondent with a divorce application?
All divorce applications must be sent to the person who is being divorced – the other spouse. This makes sense as they need to have an opportunity to have their say on the matter and, at the very least, they should be made aware that they may not be married for much longer.
In general, the Court serve (send) the respondent all of the documentation by post. This is by far the easiest and simplest way forward. There are some circumstances, however, where that may not be possible – for example, if someone has left the family home and will not reveal their new location, or where someone is in temporary accommodation and moving between addresses.
Previously, if you did not have the address of the person you were intending to divorce, you had to make a separate application to the Court, to ask for permission to send the documents to them by email.
Whilst from 6 April there is now provision to allow for service to be by email, the reality is that the new legislation doesn’t change all that much – service can be by email but, whether you serve the respondent or the Court serves them, the respondent will also need to be notified by post that documents have been sent to them by email.
What if you do not have an address for your previous spouse?
If you do not have an address for them, you will still need to make the application for permission to serve the documents only by email as previously.
While this may seem counter-intuitive, it is perhaps helpful in circumstances where someone is moving between addresses at least – they will only need to be served once with a paper notification and thereafter everything can be dealt with by email.
Why should I seek support?
In circumstances where you have elected to serve the respondent yourself, there are some fairly strict deadlines that you will need to meet in order to comply with the Court’s requirements. It is important that you seek legal advice regarding the obligations on you as the applicant, as soon as possible, if you are not aware of them already, in order to ensure that your application is effective.