When You Can’t Find Your Spouse to Serve Divorce Papers

Divorce documents must be served to the other spouse. If the spouse can’t be found, the applicant can apply for substituted service or dispensation of service.

Service of a divorce application to your spouse is necessary because he has the right to be informed that there is an application to terminate his marriage. The service is a notice to the other party of the institution of a court action. However, service is only required if it is a sole application for divorce. Service requirements are not needed for joint applications. The documents that need to be served to the spouse must first be filed with the court.

What is service and the modes of service?

Service is the process of providing a spouse with copies of the divorce application.

The two options of service are by hand and by post. Service by hand is when the documents are handed over to the spouse by a person other than the applicant. The server may be anyone who is over 18 years of age. The service may also be performed by a professional process server whose service you have engaged. The spouse served will then sign that he has received the documents.

Service by post is done by mailing the documents to the spouse who must return to the applicant the signed acknowledgment of service. If there is no acknowledgment of service, the applicant might have to resort to service by hand.

What are the documents that will be served?

  • Sealed copy of the Application for divorce;
  • Copy of the marriage, families and separation brochure, and
  • Other documents related to the application.

What if my other spouse can’t be located?

You can apply to the court for substituted service or dispensation of service.

Substituted service is when the court will order a third person to receive the documents for the absent spouse. The court must be satisfied that this third person will be able to get the documents to the other spouse.

Dispensation of service is when the court will order the applicant to no longer serve the documents to the other spouse. In his affidavit, the applicant must state all the attempts he has made to locate his spouse. The court must be satisfied that the applicant has already exhausted all possible means of finding his spouse.

How do I support my application for dispensation of service?

Here are some of the attempts that you must state in your affidavit as proof that you looked for your spouse:

  • Check if your spouse has made contact with the Child Support Agency;
  • Look into bank, business and property information of your spouse;
  • Going to the last known address;
  • Going to the office of your spouse and making inquiries there;
  • Asking relatives and common friends about the whereabouts of your spouse; and
  • Going over your last communications or meetings with your spouse.



Alan Weiss

20th March, 2020

Alan Weiss developed aussiedivorce.com.au after he experienced himself how devastating divorce proceedings can be. I witnessed firsthand my own future security, and that of my familys, being destroyed by acrimonious and costly divorce litigation. I created aussiedivorce.com.au to help people avoid an experience like this and lose thousands of dollars. Instead the aussiedivorce.com.au system will assist them in getting on with their lives.