How To Serve Divorce Papers in the UK

Divorce in the UK can be hard, even when the separation is amicable. Sometimes the most civil divorces can be strenuous and tense. The dissolution of a marriage is never an easy process, but Vilcol is here to guide and help through every step of the serving of the divorce papers to get you started smoothly and on the right foot. The current divorce rate in the UK is 42% but getting a divorce can take as little as 4 months with the right process servers at your side.

Before starting the divorce process, it is important to seek specialist family law advice to discuss your personal situation in depth so that you are prepared for the road ahead and they can help outline the exact steps you will need to take. With the backing of a good solicitor, you are comfortable with, and with Vilcol at the ready to help you serve your spouse easily and efficiently, your divorce process doesn’t have to be painful at all.

Once you have spoken to a solicitor, you’re ready to get started with the first step of your divorce and separation proceedings: serving divorce papers. There are a multitude of steps to note when it comes to serving divorce papers, which we have outlined below.

What to serve the defendant

There are a couple papers you need in order to file for a divorce in the UK:

- A copy of the filed Complaint for Divorce
- A copy of the divorce Summons
- A copy of the Joint Preliminary Injunction (if you filed one)

Always remember to keep the original copies of every document involved in your divorce proceedings to ensure that the process is as smooth as possible.

Once you have all your paperwork sorted out, which Vilcol is more than capable of helping you with, you are ready to serve the defendant.


When to serve the defendant

All documents must be served within 120 days after the Complaint for Divorce has been filed. If your spouse is not served within 120 days, the Complaint will be dismissed, and you will have to start the entire process again. Under special circumstances, such as your spouse is being difficult to locate, you can extend the time to serve. If you are having trouble locating your spouse Vilcol can help. We are a fully licensed (award winning) tracing agent, with over 75 years of combined expertise. We can legally and quickly locate your spouse and serve them their divorce papers.

Serving Divorce Papers To Husband At Work

Who can serve the defendant

The divorce papers must be served by a “disinterested person” – someone who is not a party in the case, someone who is not interested in the outcome of the case and is at least 18 years old. This means that a family member, friend or current partner cannot serve the divorce papers. As professional process servers, we can serve the papers for you in a timely manner.

Some judges require a professional process server to serve divorce papers, so it’s always a safer bet to use a 3rd party to avoid any potential complications down the line.


How long will serving the defendant take?

Once you’ve sent off your application for divorce, you will be sent a notice that your application has been properly received. Depending on how you have applied, it can take between 10 days for an online application or up to a month if you applied by post. Once these papers have been received by you and your spouse, your spouse has 8 days to respond if they agree to the divorce proceedings.


How to serve the defendant

As verified process servers, we can take care of everything for you hassle free, saving you time and unnecessary stress in an already stressful situation. Your spouse must be personally served with a copy of the documents, meaning they have to be hand delivered by your hired process server. Your spouse can be served anywhere – at the gym, at work, or at home - as long as they are handed the papers in person. Our all-inclusive fee includes 3 attempts of personal service. Our team is fairly creative so, in most cases, this is sufficient to get the job done.

Whoever serves the defendant must complete an Affidavit of Service stating when, where and what documents were served. The Affidavit must be filed with the court to show that your spouse was served correctly. You never have to worry about any of these steps and extra documents, as at Vilcol we will take care of everything for you.


If you can’t find or serve the defendant

Sometimes, divorce proceedings and dissolutions of marriage can get tricky when the defendant doesn’t want to be served and has taken to hiding or leaving their home to avoid being served. As they must be served in person, this can complicate the divorce proceedings.

We can help you to locate your missing spouse in a legal and timely manner to ensure that they are served their divorce papers within the 120-day time limit.
However, there are times when a spouse is hard to locate, or their locating is taking too much time. There are two options you can take if you cannot locate your spouse:

1. You can request an alternate service
2. You can request publication

You will need to discuss these options with your solicitor and decide which steps you need to take next. However, when you choose Vilcol as your process server you will almost never have to rely on alternative options as we have a 98% success rate of locating missing persons and spouses and serving them their divorce papers.


What happens if your spouse doesn’t respond to the divorce papers?

Sometimes, a spouse refuses to respond to the papers they have been served, in hopes that they won’t have to get a divorce if they simply ignore their divorce papers. Thankfully, this is not the case. When your spouse is served, we fill out and file the Affidavit confirming that your spouse was properly served, so there is evidence and documentation of them having received their divorce papers.

Even if they choose to ignore the divorce papers, you can still go forward with the divorce. You can do so by applying for decree nisi, which is a document that says that the court does not see any reason why you cannot divorce. If your partner does not agree to the divorce, you can still apply for decree nisi, however you will have to partake in a court hearing to discuss the case.




Applying for a decree nisi

To get a decree nisi, you need to fill out the application which can be found on the government website. You will also need to fill in a statement confirming that everything stated in your divorce petition is true. There are 5 statement forms you will need to choose from which covers the reason you’ve given for your divorce:

1. Adultery statement
2. Unreasonable behaviour statement
3. Desertion statement
4. 2 years’ separation statement
5. 5 years’ separation statement

If the judge agrees to your request of a decree nisi, the court will send you and your spouse a certificate. Legally, you are still married after the decree nisi has been granted. You’ll have to wait an additional 43 days (6 weeks and 1 day) before you can apply for a ‘decree absolute’ to finally end your marriage. You can discuss each step of this process with your solicitor.


How much does it cost to have your divorce papers served by a professional process server?

On average in the UK, the cost of hiring a process server to serve your divorce papers will be between £135 - £200. This is a standalone fee. It’s important to consider which server you choose to go with, as some cheaper options may not be as experienced and provide all the investigative efforts needed to complete the serving, especially if your spouse is hard to locate.

When you choose Vilcol as your process server, you can rest assured knowing we will do everything we can with the professional tools at our disposal to serve your spouse easily and efficiently in a cost-effective manner. We have been serving court papers since 1980’s, so you know you’re in the right hands. If you are looking for top of the line process servers to get your divorce process started, feel free to contact us. We are more than happy to help and can discuss a tailored price of our service at that time.

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