Rainscourt Family Law Solicitors

If My Spouse Won’t Acknowledge or Agree to a Divorce Petition, What Should I Do?

Once you have uploaded your divorce petition to the Family Court, what happens if your spouse ignores the divorce process, or decides to defend the divorce? 

The fact on which you issued your divorce petition (unreasonable behaviour/adultery/two years of separation) will affect what your options are if your spouse is ignoring the divorce paperwork.  It is simply not possible to progress a divorce based on two years of separation if your spouse is unwilling to consent to that divorce and agree that it can proceed.  If this occurs, you will need to amend your original petition to unreasonable behaviour.  This will incur further court fees and introduce significant delay, so it is worthwhile definitely confirming that your spouse will agree to take an active role in the divorce process prior to issuing a petition using a two year separation fact.

If you do not believe that your spouse is going to actively respond to the petition, use the unreasonable behaviour fact from the outset.  You can read more about unreasonable behaviour here.

This route enables you to progress the divorce, even if your spouse is unwilling to take any active steps to progress it.  This is achieved by paying for a process server to personally hand the divorce paperwork to your spouse.  The process server will then provide you with the paperwork you need to be able to progress the divorce without the involvement of your spouse at all.  The priority of the court is to ensure that your spouse is aware of the divorce.  Once that is achieved via personal service, they do not need to play any further role at all.

If your spouse does not agree to a divorce, they will need to take an active role in confirming to the court in their acknowledgement of service form that they intend to defend it.  Defended divorces are very rare, as they involve complex court procedures and increase legal costs.  Sometimes people state on their acknowledgement that they will defend the divorce, but then do not file the necessary paperwork within the timescales required by the court. 

If My Spouse Won’t Acknowledge or Agree to a Divorce Petition, What Should I Do?
Greg Rutherford Milton Keynes ‘Leaping Man’ statue. Image by Mikes-Photography
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