Years of experience as a family lawyer in London has taught me many things; mainly, divorce is difficult and painful enough without any unexpected or additional problems being thrown into the pot. If you are in the process of filing for divorce or are seriously thinking of doing so, I have come up with a list of the four most common, ‘unexpected’ problems individuals ask me to advise them on. I am sharing them with you now, in the hope that having a little advanced knowledge will save you from future (and probably further) irritation and resentment towards your estranged spouse.
1. My Spouse Refuses to Sign the divorce Papers
This is one of the most common problems I see, and it causes immense frustration on the part of the person petitioning for the divorce, and unfortunately is likely to increase legal costs.
To grant a divorce, a Judge must have proof that a Petition for divorce has been served. Although your soon to be ex-spouse may have told you that they had received the divorce papers (but planned to do nothing about them), this is not likely to be enough to convince a Judge to grant a divorce.
On receiving a divorce petition, your spouse has seven days to return an Acknowledgement of Service to the Court. If they fail to do so, you will need to engage one of the solutions highlighted below.
You and your family lawyer can arrange for your obstinate spouse to be personally served with divorce papers by a Court Bailiff or a private Process Server. When the documents are handed over, the deliverer will sign a Certificate of Service, and this can be used seven days after the delivery of the documents to obtain a Decree Nisi, regardless of whether or not your spouse signs the Acknowledgement of Service.
In some cases, serving documents in person will not work. For example, if you are relying on the fact you have been separated for two years as grounds for divorce, you will need to obtain your spouse’s consent to the ending of the marriage, via an Acknowledgement of Service.
Alternatively, if your spouse has informed you that he or she has received the divorce papers via an email, text or Facebook, you can file the received information at court with an Application Notice (Form D11) and a court fee and ask the court for an order for deemed service.
2. I do not Have a Marriage Certificate
The two most common reasons clients come to me saying that they do not have a marriage certificate are:
a) They have lost it; or
b) They married abroad, and a marriage certificate was either not provided (this often occurs in tribal weddings), or it is in a foreign language.
If you have misplaced your marriage certificate or it has been destroyed, a certified copy can be obtained from the Superintendent Registrar of Marriages for the district where the marriage took place or the General Register Office.
If you were married in a foreign country, and the marriage certificate you have is in a foreign language, you will need to provide an authenticated, translated copy to the Court in order to obtain a divorce in the UK. To dissolve a foreign marriage, you must have been living in the UK for at least twelve months prior to filing your petition.
If your marriage took place abroad and you do not have a marriage certificate because the ceremony of marriage did not include one, then your nuptials may not be valid under UK law. One of the elements essential to a marriage being valid under British law is that there must be evidence, in the form of a certificate or the equivalent. Mick Jagger’s marriage to Jerry Hall was declared null and void due to the fact they were married in a Hindu ceremony in Bali; therefore, the marriage was not recognised under UK law.
If you find yourself in this type of situation, you may find it more favourable to apply to the court for a declaration as to the validity of your marriage rather than petition for a divorce.
3. Wherefore art thou Spouse?
If you have no idea where in the world your spouse is, then you can apply to the court for a Statement to Dispense with the Service of divorce Petition.
In order to do this, you must first send a petition to your spouse’s last known address. If it is returned unopened, your next step is to make every effort to track down your spouse. Steps can include contacting:
- all known friends and relatives
- their last known employer
- banks and building societies
- the Court to apply for a disclosure order against the HM Revenue and Customs
- sports or cultural clubs your spouse once belonged to
- a private investigator
4. My Spouse Is Living Overseas
If your estranged spouse is living abroad, you can still apply for divorce in the UK, on the condition that you have been living in England or Wales for a period of twelve months before petitioning.
Even the most straightforward divorces can be tricky at times; therefore, if you have any of these or other circumstances that may make your dissolution more complicated, it is imperative to seek experienced legal advice, to avoid unnecessarily high legal bills and blood pressure levels.
OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration and family law firms in London and is highly recommended by the Legal 500. By making an appointment with one of our Family Solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today. Please contact us on 0207 936 9960.
And How To Overcome Them
Posted on: Friday, 09 February, 2018