What's Involved in Serving Your Spouse With Divorce Papers?

Law Blog

What does a perfect divorce look like? The two parties would (either by themselves or through formal mediation) agreed on the division of assets and any child custody arrangements. They would then file a joint application (so there's no need for divorce papers to be served), and once they can prove they've been legally separated for a minimum of twelve months, the divorce is granted. Many divorces are not quite so harmonious, and often the first headache is serving your spouse with the paperwork.

Obtaining Divorce Papers

The process has been partially digitalised, and you can in fact apply for your divorce papers via the Commonwealth Courts Portal. The documents are emailed to you, and you need to print them out and sign them. Your lawyer can assist you with this process. Your spouse also needs a copy, but this isn't necessarily simple.

No Face-to-Face Contact

You will not serve divorce papers yourself. It may not in fact be possible (if you cannot locate your spouse) or in your best interests (if your relationship is not amicable) to serve the papers. You can send the paperwork to your spouse (or their lawyer) via post, but there will be no face-to-face contact between you and your spouse for the serving of these papers. You can work with law services that serve divorce papers on your behalf.

Process Serving

When it's not possible to serve the paperwork by post, the matter will be handled by a third party. You should engage a process server. They will take possession of the papers and will then serve them to your spouse. This is an efficient method when you have difficulty locating your spouse, and the process server will essentially track them down to physically hand them the documents.

The Papers Have Been Served 

Ideally, your spouse will sign the paperwork. This could happen on the spot (although this is unlikely) or after consultation with their lawyer. The paperwork will then be returned to you or your lawyer. However, a signature is not essential, and once the documents have been handed to your spouse, the papers are considered served. When there's a lack of a confirmation signature, it's standard for the process server to complete a statutory declaration confirming that they made contact with the relevant party, and left the necessary documents in their possession. 

Even when they might not want to receive divorce papers, serving your spouse with these documents isn't as much of a headache as you might have thought.


30 June 2021

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