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Your spouse has just received the divorce papers and we have not heard anything from court, the 30 days response time is up, and we have not yet received the divorce papers signed. What can we do now?

If you are in a non-amicable situation where your partner has disagreed with the idea of divorce prior to filing, then you will likely encounter this situation at the point the petition is issued to them.  But don’t panic! If your ex-partner refuses to sign the divorce papers or respond to your divorce application, there are steps you can take to finalise your divorce.

I am in contact with them but they’re not signing?

If you have means of contact for them, it’s important that you make sure your spouse has received the papers to sign. Whether this is via Facebook, WhatsApp, Text, Emails etc. anything will do. This is so we can gain some sort of ‘evidence’ that they have received the divorce papers and are choosing not to sign it in order to delay proceedings. A screenshot of the message is perfect. It also does not matter if a 3rd party contacts the respondent and evidence is gained this way, we can still use this. If and when we have gained this ‘evidence’ we can apply for an order via Form D11 called Deemed Service which is ultimately proof of the above so that the courts can deem the papers as served and we can apply for Decree Nisi and continue the normal process.

It means the process will take slightly longer as we have to add an extra step, being the D11 form, but ultimately the divorce can be achieved.

I am in contact with them but they’re not responding to my messages?

If you do have a form of contact for your spouse but they are choosing to ignore messages, our next port of call would be an application for Alternative Service.  This is where we apply to the court via a form to have the papers served on the Respondent using email, WhatsApp, FB messenger etc. The Respondent does not actually have to reply to the message but once it is sent, the court deem the papers as served anyway, meaning we can then follow the process as normal.

When the application is accepted, the courts will send you all blank divorce docs to send via your chosen alternative service method. You need to serve them within 48 hours of receiving the order and your spouse will then have another 30 days to sign.

This is a commonly opted for method as many Respondents choose to ignore the proceedings altogether.

I know where my spouse is living but they wont respond to my messages and are ignoring the petition?

If your spouse won’t sign but you know where they are living, you can instruct the court or a private service to issue a Process Server/bailiff.

A Process Server/Bailiff is someone who can physically deliver the divorce papers to the Respondent at the requested address, this can be their home address or a workplace or simply an address where you know they will be at a specific time.

If after this has been served, the papers have still not been signed, you can request a copy of certificate from the process server/bailiff to provide the court with as evidence that the respondent has received the petition but is choosing not to respond. The Court should then allow the divorce process to move forward once you have made an application for Deemed Service.

I don’t know where my spouse is, and we are not in contact?

In this situation, we have to follow a slightly more extensive route in order to get to the Decree Nisi stage of the divorce. To make an application for Dispensed Service, you’ll need to prove to the Court that you have tried all other methods to try and contact your spouse and inform them about the divorce. Some methods you could try to find them are as follows:

– Facebook, it seems everyone has a Facebook account these days! Try searching for them via this method or for people that they may know, and you might get lucky and find them.

–, this is a software that allows you to do a search of the electoral roll register so, if they are in the UK, you may be able to find a current address for them.

– If you know their last workplace, it can be an idea to try and contact them to find out if they are still in employment there.

– If you have been separated for a good number of years, the courts will likely ask you to do a search of the Central Index of Decree Absolutes. This is so the courts can determine whether your spouse has actually divorced you without your knowledge in the time that you have been separated. You will need a form to carry this out, but it can be quite costly depending on how long you have been separated. If you fall under the Help with Fees category, you can state on your D13b that making the application to search the index will not be possible due to your financial situation.

– Try and make contact with any friends or family members of your spouse that you are aware of. Nine times out of ten, they may be unwilling, but we need to provide the courts with as much research as possible.

 This application is rarely made and should be a last resort to getting your divorce.


Remember, if you don’t think your spouse will sign, don’t panic! A divorce can be achieved one way or another.

Start your divorce today and call us on 0800 294 0452.

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