Applying for Substituted or Dispensation of Service Orders
The rules of service are very strict. If you can’t serve your Application for Divorce on your spouse, you must ask the court for permission to:
- serve them in a different way (substituted service), or
- not serve them at all (dispensation of service).
To do this, you must file an Application in a Proceeding and an Affidavit. You can file your application online or at a court registry.
You don’t have a pay a fee to file an Application in a Proceeding.
Once your application is processed by the registry, you will receive a hearing date. This is usually the same date as the divorce hearing. You must attend this hearing.
If you don’t serve your spouse, and you don’t apply for substituted or dispensation of service orders, the court may adjourn or dismiss your application.
Asking the court for substituted or dispensation of service orders may delay your divorce application.
If you are concerned about your residential address being disclosed to your spouse or are afraid to contact them, you should get legal advice.
Applying for Substituted Service Orders
If you can’t serve your spouse by hand or by post but are still able to contact them, you must ask the court for permission to serve them by a different method. This may include serving them:
- via Facebook or email
- through a friend or relative of your spouse
- by placing a notice in a newspaper, for example, the Daily Telegraph.
If the court is not satisfied that you have taken all reasonable steps to find your spouse, it may adjourn your application and ask you to try again.
Step by step guide: Applying for Substituted Service Orders
Applying for Dispensation of Service Order
If you don’t know where your spouse is and you have not been able to contact them, you must ask the court to make an order dispensing with service.
The court will only make this order if it is satisfied you have made all reasonable attempts to contact and locate your spouse. This includes trying to contact them via email, social media, through friends and family, or their employer.
If the court thinks you have not made all reasonable attempts to contact and locate your spouse, it may adjourn your application and ask you to try again.
You will need strong evidence for the court to dispense with service. You should consider substituted service first.
If the court thinks there is a way you can serve your spouse, it may make Substituted Service Orders instead of Dispensation of Service Orders.
Step by step guide: Applying for Dispensation of Service Order