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My Ex Is Ignoring My Divorce Petition. What Can I Do?19th Jul 2017


“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate – some men (or women) you just can’t reach.”

You probably recognise this famous quote from the Paul Newman movie Cool Hand Luke (or the Guns ‘n’ Roses song Civil War in which it also appeared).

It sums up the frustrations many people getting divorced feel when their former partner:

  • refuses to consider mediation – despite the fact it’s cheaper, quicker and easier than going to court
  • won’t return phone calls or reply to emails or formal letters
  • ignores court orders or refuses to respond when served with divorce papers.

Sometimes they just won’t see sense, no matter how hard you’ve tried to compromise. They take the ostrich approach. Maybe they’re too heartbroken or confused to accept reality…or maybe they’re just being bloody -minded...

Whatever the reason, you need to move on – but you can’t because they’re holding up the process. They’re making your life intolerable!

Here’s how to fix the problem…

Book A Free Chat With A Divorce Lawyer

What If My Former Partner Ignores My Divorce Petition?

You want a divorce. They don’t. They refuse to accept that the marriage is over in real terms.

There’s only one ground for divorce: irretrievable breakdown of the marriage based one or more defined facts:

  • two years’ separation with consent – but what if they won’t give consent?
  • five years’ separation (no consent required) – but what if you don’t want to wait that long?
  • desertion – but this is rare and hard to prove.

So that leaves you with two choices:

  • adultery – either they admit it or you prove that they have been adulterous
  • unreasonable behavior – if you can prove that the divorce petition was served then the matter can proceed.

So get a process server to formally serve your former partner with the petition.

As you can see, this is not ideal – it encourages separating couples to find reasons to blame each other. This makes divorce more acrimonious than it needs to be.

It shows that the law needs reform. As family law solicitors, we are lobbying the government to introduce ‘no fault divorce’.

Being Nice Is Easier (And Cheaper) In The Long Run

No-one benefits when the situation has become so bad that it requires stick instead of carrot.

It’s far better to reach an amicable agreement. Everyone benefits when you and your former partner reach a win-win compromise.

For more information contact Coles Miller Partner Richard Perrins, Head of our Family Law Department, 01202 355698.

This document is not intended to constitute and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice on any specific matter. No liability for the accuracy of the content of this document, or the consequences of relying on it, is assumed by the author. If you seek further information, please contact Managing Partner Neil Andrews at Coles Miller Solicitors LLP.