No Fault Divorce and Service Issues: What if My Spouse Refuses to Engage in the Divorce Proceedings?

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Our latest series of blogs have been covering the changes to divorce law in England and Wales with the implementation of ‘No Fault Divorce’ on 6 April 2022.

A frequent question we are asked is what happens if your spouse refuses to engage in the divorce proceedings.

You can file an application for a divorce yourself without the consent of your spouse. Once your application has been issued, unless your spouse has a solicitor acting for them, the court will send a copy of the divorce application to the details you provided for them with a notice of proceedings and an acknowledgement of service form.

Your spouse will be asked to register for an account with HMCTS and to respond to the divorce application within 14 days of receiving the divorce application.

It is also possible to respond by post.

Once your spouse has responded to the divorce application, it allows you to progress your divorce proceedings to the next stage and apply for your Conditional Order in the divorce 20 weeks later.

What happens if my spouse does not respond to the divorce proceedings in time?

If your spouse does not respond after 14 days, for example:

  • If they are being obstructive in allowing the divorce to proceed;
  • If you are unsure whether they received the divorce application at all; or
  • If they are very difficult to contact;

Then you can still take steps to ensure that your divorce application goes ahead by considering alternative options for serving the divorce application.

Personal Service

You can instruct a process server or a bailiff to arrange personal service of the divorce application for your spouse. You would need to have a reasonable belief that they are still living at the address you gave them in the application. Providing personal service is successful; this dispenses with the need for your spouse to respond to the divorce application themselves, as the process server will provide a certificate to the court confirming that the application has been served. We work with a number of process serving agents and can facilitate this process if it becomes necessary.

No Fault Divorce and Service Issues

Deemed service

If you consider that your spouse has received the application but is intentionally refusing to respond to it, you can make an application to the court for ‘deemed service’ and ask for the court to accept that they have been served with the application.

You will need to show you have exhausted all other options of serving the divorce application on your spouse before making an application for deemed service.

Dispensing with service

If you have no idea of your spouse’s whereabouts, then we can assist you in steps to take to try and locate your spouse, which may include the use of a tracing service. The court would need to show that you had made all efforts to locate them before bringing an application to dispense with service entirely.

What if my spouse wants to contest the divorce?

As long as your application was issued on or after 6 April 2022, then the only basis to dispute a divorce is for a legal reason, such as a dispute over whether the courts of England and Wales have the jurisdiction to deal with your divorce proceedings. More detail can be found in our previous blog.

Here to help

Myerson’s specialist family lawyers are here to help provide more information regarding advice on all aspects of Family Law. If you have any more questions or would like more information, you can contact our Family Law Team below.

Contact Myerson Solicitors

If you have any more questions or would like more information, you can contact our Family Law Solicitors on:

0161 941 4000