If you’ve been separated from your spouse for over 12 months, you might decide to take the next step and file for divorce. But what happens if you’ve lost track of your spouse and don’t know where to serve the divorce papers?

Although being unable to locate your spouse can make the process more complicated, you can still get a divorce even if you can’t find your spouse.

If after making all reasonable attempts you cannot serve your divorce application on your spouse, you can apply to the Court for:

  • Substituted service, or
  • dispensation of service.

What is substituted service?

Substituted service allows you to serve court documents on a third person who the Court is satisfied will bring the court documents to the attention of your spouse.

What is dispensation of service?

Dispensation of service means you do not need to serve court documents on your spouse if the Court is satisfied that you have made all reasonable attempts to find them.

In order to demonstrate to the court that all reasonable attempts have been made you will need to prepare (with the help of your family lawyer) an Affidavit that outlines:

  • What attempts, efforts and enquiries you made to find the respondent.
  • When you last saw, spoke to or communicated in any way with the respondent, and the circumstances of that sighting or communication.
  • The last known address of the respondent.
  • Who are the respondent’s nearest relatives and friends, what enquiries you made of these people about the respondent and any replies received.
  • What employment, if any, the respondent had.
  • What enquiries you made with the respondent’s last known employer and any replies received.
  • Details of any current child support or maintenance arrangements or orders. If correspondence has been received from the Department of Human Services (Child Support), attach a copy to your affidavit.
  • Details of any property, bank accounts or businesses jointly owned.
  • If the respondent lives overseas, details about the country they are living in, how long they have lived there and if they plan to travel or move back to Australia.
  • Any reasons why the respondent may not be contactable.
  • The costs of trying to locate the respondent and whether such costs are creating financial difficulties for you.
  • Any other relevant information that may help the Court.

Legal advice

Adelaide Family Law’s solicitors are experienced in all areas of family law and can provide the necessary legal advice to apply for substituted service or dispensation of service in the case of a missing spouse.

To make an appointment for a no obligation consultation with one of our solicitors to discuss your family law issue please call 08 8113 3111 or email admin@adelaidefamilylaw.com.au.