Divorce: What to Do if You Can't Contact Your Partner

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After I had an accident and had to spend some time in the hospital, I decided that it was time to make a will and do some estate planning. After all, you never know what is around the corner, and I would hate for a family member to miss out on inheriting from me if I were to suddenly pass away. I worked with a lawyer to draft a will. We then discussed the various ways I could arrange my estate. I had been worried that I wouldn’t understand the different legal terms, but my lawyer took the time to carefully explain them. I am now much happier knowing that everything is in place. I decided to set up this blog to offer tips to other people who are in the process of planning their estate.

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Divorce: What to Do if You Can't Contact Your Partner

16 January 2017
 Categories: Law, Blog


If your relationship with your partner has broken down, you may have lost contact with them. While you may be pleased to be free from your partner, them not being around could pose a problem if you decide to file for divorce. Australian citizens can only apply for a divorce 12 months after you have chosen to end your marriage. You will need to fill out the relevant paperwork and file it with your local Federal Circuit Court. While a traditional divorce will involve both parties, if you have lost contact with your partner, you may be wondering about the next steps you should take.

Attempting to Make Contact

If you are the party who is initiating the divorce, Australian divorce law requires that you make a reasonable attempt to locate your spouse before beginning the court proceeding. This means you need to demonstrate to the court that you have done everything within your power to make contact with your spouse to inform them of the divorce. If your local Federal Circuit Court believes that you have not made a reasonable attempt to locate your spouse, they may delay the proceedings until they are satisfied that you have exhausted every option.

Methods of Contacting Your Spouse

In order to demonstrate to the Federal Circuit Court that you have made a reasonable attempt to contact your partner, you should ensure you have carried out the following actions:

  • Send a letter to their last known address
  • Send a letter to their last known place of employment
  • Contact their family and friends and ask them to pass a message on
  • Send a private message to your partner via social media or email

Next Steps if You Are Unable to Make Contact

If you are still unable to make contact with your partner, you should consider filing a substituted service. A substituted service means that the court will serve the divorce papers to a family member or friend of your partner so that they can pass them on to your spouse.

If your partner does not respond to the papers, you can then file for a dispensation of service. When the Circuit Court is convinced that you have done all you can to contact your partner, they will allow the divorce to continue without your partner's participation.

If you would like further advice and information about locating and divorcing your partner, contact a family lawyer, such as Alexanders Lawyers, today.