How tough is it getting a divorce when your spouse cannot be found?
Usually, the Writ of divorce and the related divorce documents have to be served on your spouse personally by a process server once they are filed in Court. After all, a marriage involves both parties.
In some cases, the Defendant (i.e. the other spouse) refuses to open the door to accept service of the divorce documents. In other cases, the Defendant can not be found. Depending on the facts of the case, the Plaintiff (i.e. the spouse filing for divorce) may apply for either an order for substituted service or an order for dispensation of service.
Application for Substituted Service of Divorce Documents
After 2 attempts of personal service of the divorce documents on your spouse, you may find that your spouse is deliberately avoiding receiving the papers from the process server. You may wish to make an application for substituted service of the divorce documents. In general, you will have to inform the Court as to why you believe that the proposed mode of substituted service will bring the divorce documents to the notice of the Defendant. Substituted service can be by one of the following methods:
1. AR registered post. When making the application for substituted service by way of AR registered post, you will need to explain to the Court why you believe that the Defendant is currently resident at the address. If you are providing an overseas address for service, you will have to explain why you believe that the Defendant is not ordinarily resident in Singapore.
2. When making the application for substituted service by way of email, you will have to show that the email account belongs to your spouse and that it is active. For instance, you have been communicating by way of email with your spouse and your spouse has responded.
3. Posting on the front door of your spouse’s last known address in Singapore. In some cases, your spouse may be avoiding the service of divorce documents. He/ she may not open the door when the process server pays him/ her a visit. You will have to inform the Court on:
a. The dates, times and outcomes of personal service and why such attempts were reasonable.
b. Evidence that the spouse is presently residing at the said address.
c. Explanation on why you believe your spouse is still residing at the said address. For instance, it may be a case that you are still living in the same address as your spouse.
d. In case you do not know the Defendant’s last known address, you should attempt to find out by contacting the Defendant’s relatives, friends and employers.
e. You should also inform the Court of your last contact with the Defendant, including details on the mode of contact and the contents of such communication.
4. If you do not know your spouse’s last known address and you are unable to find out any information on your spouse (including email), you may have to apply to put up an advertisement on the local newspapers in the country where you believe your spouse to be in. You will have to inform the Court on your spouse’s levels of literacy (and in what language). If the application is to place an advertisement in foreign newspapers, you should also provide reasons as to why you believe your spouse is in that country.
Application for Dispensation of Service of Divorce Documents
In the event that all attempts at service (including substituted service) are futile, the Court may grant an order allowing dispensation of service of divorce documents. You would have to show to the Court that you have no idea where your spouse is (and he/ she is not a Singapore citizen) and advertising would be futile.
The biggest challenge in getting a divorce when your spouse cannot be found may be to serve divorce papers on your spouse. You should consult an experienced divorce lawyer in Singapore on how to proceed with divorce when your spouse cannot be found. Contact us at +6598330314 (whatsapp) if you need help with this.
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