While a divorce application can be made online and the papers sent to the respondent via email, the court will still expect the respondent to be sent notice of the application to their home address.
It is possible to ask the court to dispense with the need to send notice of the divorce by post, and simply to send the divorce application by email.
What happens if you do not have an email address or a home address for your spouse?
It may be possible to ask the court to dispense with the need to send a copy of the divorce application by email or post, but the court will expect you to have made all reasonable attempts to locate your ex so that they can be served (i.e provided with) all of the divorce papers and have a chance to respond.
You will need to provide the court with your ex’s last known address. If you think that they are no longer at that address, you should make enquiries with your ex’s friends or family to try to locate an alternative address.
If you are still unable to find their address, you can engage the services of a tracing agent or private investigator to track their whereabouts.
If you know where your spouse works, or can show that your ex is in contact with relatives (and can prove their address) then the court may allow you to substitute service at their residential address in this way. It can be helpful to have a statement from a private investigator to confirm where your ex works or that they have contact with relatives.
If your ex last lived in the UK, it is also possible to apply to the court for HMRC to disclose their address. You will need to provide your ex’s date of birth, national insurance number (if you have it) and your ex’s last known address. HMRC will then send the address, if they have it, to the court and the court will send the divorce papers to your ex. If your ex does not respond, the divorce will proceed without their consent.
As a last resort, you can apply to the court to dispense with service (i.e to remove the need for your ex to be provided with the court documents) but must show that you have taken all reasonable steps such as those already mentioned to locate your spouse. The divorce can then proceed as normal.
Progressing a divorce if you do not know where your ex lives is slightly more complicated, but it is achievable. We can help to guide you through the progress as smoothly as possible.