Divorce: What Happens When You Cannot Locate Your Partner?

Law Blog

It's never an easy time when a marriage breaks down. In some cases, you might no longer be in contact with your partner, and this can complicate matters when you actually file for divorce. As an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you can only apply for divorce 12 months (and one day) after you decided to separate with no tangible plans to resume the relationship. You file your divorce with your closest Federal Circuit Court. While it's traditional that both parties participate in the subsequent negotiations before the dissolution of your marriage, there are some instances when this is not possible if you cannot locate your partner. So what should you do when you need to divorce and yet cannot locate your soon-to-be former spouse?

Trying to Make Contact

You should make every reasonable attempt to contact your spouse. If you are initiating the divorce, you are the applicant and they are the respondent. You need to do everything within your power to get them to respond. If the Federal Circuit Court does not feel that you have explored every option, then you might be advised to continue with your efforts. So what can you do?

  • Contact them care of their last known address.
  • Contact them via their place of work, if applicable.
  • Speak with their friends and family to see if they can pass a message on.
  • Try to contact your partner via email or social media, in the event that their telephone number has changed or that they do not answer their phone.

Your Options

Have a word with the family lawyer assisting you with your divorce. They might wish to file a substituted service, in which the documents pertaining to the divorce are served to a friend or family member of your partner with the expectation that they will then be presented to your partner. If you have made every reasonable effort to contact your partner with no success (such as if they have broken off all contact or have even left the country), then a dispensation of service can be filed. This allows the divorce to proceed without the participation of your partner. Once the Circuit Court is satisfied that you have done everything within your power to contact your partner, the divorce can proceed.

While it is certainly an extreme case to not be able to contact your partner in the event of a divorce, it's important to know that you still have options even if your partner makes the whole process more complicated than it needs to be.


25 July 2016

Unknown laws you might not know

I love all of those quirky laws that are still on the law book. It's a little hobby of mine to track down some of those laws and try and work out if there was a story behind how they got on the books. I've been doing it for 14 years and have accumulated a lot of material that I have researched. I thought it would be fun to start a blog with some of these stories to share with other people who like to know a little more about law and about history. I hope you enjoy my site.