Q&As

A spouse wishes to divorce having had no contact with their spouse for 30 years, whom they presume to have died. Should a combined petition in Form D8D be submitted for a presumption of death order and the dissolution of the marriage, or should an application for a divorce be made together with an application to dispense with service?

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Produced in partnership with Paul Infield of The 36 Group
Published on LexisPSL on 08/10/2019

The following Family Q&A produced in partnership with Paul Infield of The 36 Group provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • A spouse wishes to divorce having had no contact with their spouse for 30 years, whom they presume to have died. Should a combined petition in Form D8D be submitted for a presumption of death order and the dissolution of the marriage, or should an application for a divorce be made together with an application to dispense with service?
  • Divorce petition and dispensing with service
  • Presumption of death

A spouse wishes to divorce having had no contact with their spouse for 30 years, whom they presume to have died. Should a combined petition in Form D8D be submitted for a presumption of death order and the dissolution of the marriage, or should an application for a divorce be made together with an application to dispense with service?

Divorce petition and dispensing with service

In some cases, the simplest and often the most cost-effective method will be for the petitioner to apply for a divorce under section 1(2)(e) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and for an order dispensing with service of the petition.

For details of how to apply to dispense with service, see Practice Note: Service of applications for matrimonial and civil partnership orders within the jurisdiction. Note that full enquiries must be made in an effort to trace the respondent. The court will not lightly make an order dispensing with service. Failure to make full enquiries of the respondent's whereabouts may result in the court treating it as a defect in service and a consequent decree may be voidable.

A search of the Central Index of Decrees Absolute may also be required by the court. Application for a search is made on Form D440.

Presumption of death

In other cases it may be appropriate to apply for a declaration under the Presumption of Death Act 2013

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