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Divorcing a Missing Husband or Wife

The process of getting divorced differs if you do not know where your spouse is, or you think they may have died. This guide explains how to divorce a missing husband or wife in the United Kingdom.

If Your Spouse is Not Presumed Dead

As a rule, finding the current address of your husband or wife will speed up the divorce procedures. Try contacting their:

  • Friends
  • Last known employer
  • Relatives (including children)
  • Professional organisation
  • Trade union

You can fill in a divorce petition online or by post if you have their current, or their last known, address. No matter which method you choose, the mandatory court-filing fee for divorce is £550 (or to end a civil partnership).

What if the Petition Returns Unopened?

The petition might return to your regional divorce centre ‘unopened’. If so, they will confirm with you that it got returned unopened.

There are several other ways for you to send the divorce petition to your husband or wife if their whereabouts are unknown. You could try:

  • Making an application to send the petition by another method (e.g. by email using form D11).
  • Contacting your regional divorce centre and ask them to make a search of other government departments for their address.

Note: There would be an extra court fee of £50 for you to pay if you use either of these alternative methods.

What if you are still unable to find the contact details of your spouse? You can ask the court to proceed with your divorce even though you could not serve the respondent with the papers.

You should return this statement to your regional divorce centre. There will be another £50 court fee to pay for doing so.

If Your Spouse is Presumed Dead

You will not need to send the divorce petition if you have enough evidence that your partner has died. You can use form D8D instead to end the marriage.

The court fee for this method is £365. It might be best to find a solicitor to help you deliver the evidence needed.

You can use the same form if you want to remarry. But, using this method does not get you a death certificate, an application for probate, or ancillary relief (financial order).

How to Divorce a Missing Husband or Wife in United Kingdom