What Happens If Your Partner Won’t Sign Divorce Papers?

Is your spouse ignoring your efforts to serve them with divorce papers? The process of completing a divorce can be difficult enough without issues such as this holding things back. Normally, when served papers, the receiving partner will confirm by returning the Acknowledgement of Service document to the court.

Why your partner won’t sign the divorce papers

There are many potential reasons why your partner may refuse to sign and return the service of acknowledgment. Some of these include:

  • Emotional attachment – Your partner may be holding out hope for a reconciliation in the future. If you have both spent many years together, the chances are that there will be a high level of attachment which is difficult to just let go of.
  • Financial concerns – Your partner may be concerned over potential financial disagreements including the division of assets, or child support. If a partner feels they are not getting a fair financial deal then they are more likely to delay proceedings.
  • Child custody issues – If your partner is dissatisfied with the proposed child custody arrangements they may delay the divorce process by not signing the acknowledgment of service.
  • Legal strategy – Delaying proceedings could be seen by your partner as a way to maintain control and gain leverage in any negotiations that are to take place.
  • Lack of understanding – Your partner may simply be ignorant of the legal implications of refusing to sign divorce papers or may have misconceptions about how the process works.

The simplest solution is to speak with your partner

The simplest, least expensive, and most efficient method is one that you should always consider first. This involves simply speaking to your partner and trying to support them in understanding the situation. If both partners can accept that the marriage has broken down permanently and allow the process to occur, then it will reduce most of the difficulties.

Methods for obtaining acknowledgement of service

Process server – A process server is a person who formally gives legal documents to a person named on a document. This is the most typical route that people will take when they are unable to get an Acknowledgment of Service from a partner. The process servers will make every effort possible to provide your partner with the documents as quickly as possible, making this one of the faster options. Process servers will charge a fee. This is usually in the range of £100-£200. 

Court bailiffs – Court bailiffs are employees of the court and are responsible for enforcing orders of the court. Using a bailiff is usually less expensive than a process server, however, a judge would need to approve the request for using a court bailiff – this can take much more time. If you do not need a fast response this could be the ideal solution. 

Apply to the court to dispense service – If you are not able to serve the divorce papers to your partner and the other methods have failed, you can apply to the court to dispense with service. This means that you no longer need to attempt to serve your partner with notice and that proceedings can move forward. This should only be considered as a last resort.

How our lawyers can support you in the divorce process

Here at Demstone Chambers our team of family law barristers has many years of experience when it comes to divorce and family law-related issues. We are a direct access barristers chambers based in Milton Keynes but can also offer our services in London, Birmingham, and across the UK if required. If your partner won’t sign divorce papers we will be able to assist and provide you with all relevant options. We can also assist with full representation including in the family court should this be required. To find out more about our services and how we can help you, get in contact today.


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