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What Happens If Spouse Doesn't Sign Divorce Papers?

Applying for a divorce is never an easy decision to take, especially if you’re not sure your partner will sign the divorce papers, though it’s important to know that you don’t need your partner’s consent to get a divorce.

Despite that, because marriage is based on a partnership, your ex-spouse is still entitled to see a copy of the divorce petition, even for a no-fault divorce.

When you file for divorce, your spouse will be sent a notice of proceedings, together with an ‘Acknowledgement of Service’ form.

As the respondent, they must return this form within 14 days of getting the notice of proceedings (if the court issued your divorce application on or after 6 April 2022) before the court will move your divorce application forward.

But this can cause a problem if your ex won’t sign the divorce papers. This article describes what happens if spouse doesn’t sign divorce papers and what steps you need to take to get divorced.

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    This divorce service is for people who have either been separated for some time and do not have an address for their spouse or they are unlikely to sign the divorce papers.
    • We make an application to find an address or ask the court to dispense with having to serve the papers, depending on your case
    • We process the divorce depending on what the court requires
    • We help you get your divorce at a much lower cost than by using solicitors
    • We chase the court for updates for you
    • We keep you updated from start-to-finish

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How long does it take for a bailiff to serve divorce papers?

    Typically, the time it takes for a county court bailiff to serve divorce papers is usually between four and seven weeks if successful, but each case is different.

    A court bailiff is normally allocated his own specific region and that region is broken down into smaller areas. The court bailiff may only be in the area where the respondent lives once or twice a month and then only during office hours.

    The bailiff will make a number of attempts to serve the papers but given the fact that he will not be in the area on a daily or even a weekly basis, then if he cannot serve the papers it may be a month or more before the papers are returned to the original court with his report.

    What is a D89 form?

    Form D89 is the form that is used to request for personal service by a court bailiff.

    You can use this form if you need the court’s help to deliver papers about your application for a divorce, dissolution of a civil partnership or a judicial separation.

    You can ask a court bailiff to hand-deliver papers to the respondent in divorce proceedings on your behalf if your spouse is ignoring the divorce papers.

    Together with completing the form you would provide either a photo or a description from which the bailiff would be able to identify your spouse and he would then attempt service.

    Only use this form if the court issued your application on or after 6 April 2022

    What is the process of instructing a court bailiff?

    In order to request a court bailiff it is necessary to fill in Form D89: Request for personal service by a court bailiff. The fields which need to be completed include:

    • Names of petitioner and respondent
    • Contact details and description of the respondent – a photograph should be included if available
    • Details of any vehicle owned by the respondent
    • Various information about any potential danger posed by the respondent – do they hold a firearms licence and if they have any dangerous animals at their property

    The court bailiff will use the information to locate the respondent and physically serve the divorce papers. It can sometimes be faster to use a process server than a court bailiff, but timings can vary for both types of Personal Service.

    Once the respondent has been served, the bailiff or process server files a ‘Certificate of Service’ with the court confirming that service on the respondent has taken place.

    What are the advantages of a Process Server Vs Court Bailiffs?

    Many legal documents, including divorce papers, are required by law to be personally served, rather than posted.

    A process server is a specialist who serves (delivers) legal documents giving notice of court actions while also making sure the delivery of the documents is effectively recorded. Therefore, the role of a process server is broadly similar to that a county court bailiff, however there are many advantages to hiring a professional process server to deliver your papers, rather than using court bailiffs.

    1. Control – Hiring a process server gives you control over their actions but when using court bailiffs, the process is mostly out of your hands. With a bailiff you will still be informed once the documents have been served, but this may not be immediate, and you won’t have the same level of contact you would get with a process sever.
    2. Speed & Flexibility – A process server generally will be quicker. They are not tied to specific areas on specific days and can go to several addresses you provide, which could be a work address as well as a home address. They also work outside of office hours so have more flexibility to find your spouse than court bailiffs who only visit during office hours.
    3. Not Regulated – Process servers do not engage in debt collection and as such they are not considered a regulated activity, meaning there are fewer legal processes for delivering documents via a process server than there would be for bailiffs and this likely makes the process much quicker.
    4. Tracking – Sometimes the person being served can be evasive, deliberately or otherwise. If the recipient is being elusive in order to stall proceedings, then failing to find the respondent can cause a process to be massively delayed. A professional process server will be experienced in tracing elusive people and the various legal measures and strategies involved.

    Is your spouse ignoring the divorce papers?

    Is your spouse ignoring the divorce papers?

    We can help you, contact us today to discuss your options.

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