How to proceed with your divorce when it stalls

Reasons for divorce stalling

The court usually needs to hear from both parties in a marriage before it can grant a divorce.  If the respondent cannot or will not respond to the court, despite having a deadline, then the process comes to a standstill.

The simplest thing to do is to contact your ex, to find out why they have not responded.  They can still send in their response after the deadline has passed.

But what can you do if contacting your ex is difficult or impossible?   The court provides methods to proceed but often these are time-consuming, and not always the best way to progress things efficiently.

No contact with ex?

If you no longer have contact with your ex, you could ask their family, friends and workplace if they have a new address, and provide that to the court.

If there’s still no response using the original address, you have the following options available to you, depending on your situation.

You have another residential address or a solicitor’s address for your ex

  • Contact the Courts and Tribunals Service Centre to provide a different address for your ex. This can be a UK or international address.
  • You don’t have to pay anything extra to have the application sent to a different address.

Send the application to a non-residential address, eg a work address

You can ask for the application to be sent to a non-residential address.

How to apply: Download and complete form D11. Send the form to the Courts and Tribunals Service Centre.

Cost: £50, payable to the court

Search government records for the address of your ex

You can apply for a search of government databases (eg the electoral role) for the address of your ex. They must live in England or Wales.

Cost: £50, payable to the court

Send the application to your ex’s email address

You can ask for the application to be delivered by email.

How to apply: Download and complete form D11. Send the form to the Courts and Tribunals Service Centre.

Cost: £50, payable to the court

You believe your ex lives at that address, but chose not to respond

If you think that your ex is deliberately not responding you can pay a professional to deliver (serve) the divorce papers directly to them.

You can do this by using either a:

  • Process serverDivorce Negotiator can help you do this. This can be done in a few days.
  • Court bailiff (an employee of the courts).  This can take weeks to arrange.  If the bailiff succeeds in delivering the application, you’ll be given a letter as evidence that your wife has received the application. This is known as an ‘endorsement of service’. If your wife doesn’t respond within 14 days of getting the application, you can use this letter to continue your divorce without their response.

How to apply: Download and complete form D89. Send the form to the Courts and Tribunals Service Centre.

You’ll also need to send the following:

  • a photo of your ex
  • a copy of your divorce application

Cost: £110, payable to the court

You have evidence that your ex received the application, but can’t or won’t respond

If you know your ex received the application, but can’t or won’t respond, you can apply to the court for a ‘deemed service’. This means that the court will decide that your ex has received the application, and that you can continue without their response.

You need to be able to prove that your ex received the application (eg, you have a text message from them saying they received it).

How to apply: Download and complete form D11. Send the form and documents to the Courts and Tribunals Service Centre.

Cost: £50, payable to the court

I’ve tried every possible way of delivering the application

Under exceptional circumstances, you can ask the court to ‘dispense with service’ (decide your ex doesn’t have to be served the divorce application).

It’s up to the court to decide whether to grant this. Before it can be considered, you’ll need to show that you’ve done everything you can to find them by contacting their:

  • relatives (including children)
  • friends
  • last known employer
  • trade union or professional organisation

You’ll also need to have tried to find their address by searching for it on government databases.

How to apply: Download and complete form D11. and form D13b. Send the forms to the Courts and Tribunals Service Centre.

Cost: £50, payable to the court

If you decide to use any of these methods and you’re eligible for help with fees you’ll need to apply again and get a new reference number.

If you asked the court to order your ex to pay your costs, then these extra costs will also be taken into account.

Divorce Negotiator is a specialist in the field of divorce, and can help you through the divorce process smoothly. We offer advice on the divorce as well as the financial order.  A financial order or consent order will ensure you and your ex will be financially independent of one another following the divorce.

How to proceed with your divorce when it stalls was last modified: March 27th, 2019 by John Fuller
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