What to do when you get divorce papers through the post

Originally published on 7th February 2019 at 10:07 PM
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Note : this guide was for the older postal divorce process instead of the online process. The courts no longer accept applications for divorce through the post. If you would like to learn more about the online divorce process, we have a blog you can read here.

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If you’ve received divorce papers through the post and you’re not sure what to do next, read the information and advice below:

1. I agree to the divorce - what now?

If you would like the divorce to proceed then you simply need to answer the questions, sign the document and send it back to the court address on the bottom of the form. 

2. I want a divorce but I don’t agree with the information given

This scenario often occurs if your ex has used ‘unreasonable behaviour’ as the reason for the divorce.

Note : since the introduction of No-Fault divorce in April, 2022, you no longer have to give a reason (for instance, unreasonable behaviour) for your divorce.

We understand that reading someone else’s perspective on what went wrong in a marriage isn’t pleasant. There are always two sides to everything. However, if you are content for the divorce to proceed then you should:

  • submit the Acknowledgement of Service form
  • note in the box that asks if you intend to defend the divorce that you do not want to defend the divorce, but that you do not agree with the particulars of behaviour as stated.

This will ensure that you have on record stated that you do not admit to any of the alleged behaviour, whilst ensuring your divorce can proceed through the court to the next stage.

Contesting an unreasonable behaviour petition is very rarely successful and will cost you as you’ll need to pay to submit your objection. The court is NOT making a finding of fact about the behaviour listed. It is one person’s perspective. It’s worth understanding some facts about a behaviour petition…

  • Approximately 70% of couples who divorce in England and Wales must use ‘behaviour’ as the reason for the divorce. This is because the other four options (desertion, five years separation (only one person has to agree), two years separation (both people must agree to divorce) and adultery) do not apply.
  • The divorce laws in England and Wales are out of date and have not been updated in over 50 years. If you want to move on, and the other reasons are not relevant, ‘behaviour’ may be the only option available. Therefore, be pragmatic in your approach and see it as a means to an end.
  • Your divorce petition and the examples of your behaviour will not be made public unless you have to go to the High/Supreme court (which almost never happens).
  • The unreasonable behaviour statement does not have any bearing on your financial split. A different judge will read your divorce petition to the one who reads your financial proposals.

For more help with unreasonable behaviour, click here, or book a free 15-minute call with one of our Divorce Specialists.

Don’t just ignore the divorce petition. If the court believes you have received the papers, the divorce will continue without your Acknowledgement of Service Form. The court may also decide to hand deliver the papers to you, and you may well be charged for this.

3. I don’t want the divorce – what do I do now?

Relationships are such that if one person is sure it’s over then you can’t force them to remain married to you. It’s always helpful to get some emotional support, either as a couple or as an individual to help you come to terms with the situation.

Relate is a good place to start, or search for local or online therapists. It’s always better to try to work through raw emotions instead of reacting out of anger as it often gets people nowhere and can leave them out of pocket.

If you’re sure you want to contest the divorce (and that you have a legitimate reason to do so), submit in the acknowledgement of service form, stating you wish to defend the divorce. You must do this within eight days of receiving the petition.

The court will send your ex-partner copies of the papers saying you wish to defend the divorce. Once you’ve sent the papers to the court, you must fill in the Form D8B and say why you wish to defend the divorce.

Disagreeing with your ex-partner’s behaviour statement they made in the petition, or not wanting to be divorced, are not normally a good enough reason to defend the case. You must complete this form within 21 days and pay a fee of £245.

You can use this guide from the government on how to fill in the AoS (Acknowledgment of Service) online. Or get in touch with one of our amicable experts by booking a free 15-minute call here.


What to do when you get served divorce papers?

Once you’ve been notified that your spouse has applied for the divorce, you must create an account on the government portal using the access code found in the notice of proceedings you receive. After that, you can follow the instructions on the website.

What happens if I don’t respond to divorce papers UK?

If you don’t respond, the court may still allow your spouse to continue the divorce process, regardless of your input. The court will ensure that you’re aware of the situation and you may have to pay the cost for this i.e. being served.

What happens after divorce papers are served UK?

Your spouse will receive an Acknowledgement of Service form, for which they have 14 days to respond to, saying whether they agree or want to dispute the divorce.

How to get a copy of divorce papers?

You can get a copy of your Final Order (previously called the Decree Absolute) here.

Read More

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Speak to an amicable Divorce Specialist to understand your options and next steps for untying the knot, amicably.

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