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10 misconceptions about family law - Myth no 8: I don’t know where my ex is so I can’t get a divorce

Sometimes people shy away from divorce, and leave it so long that you lose touch with your ex. This could be because you split in an acrimonious manner, or felt that there was never a ‘right time’ to divorce, or life got in the way.

If you have lost touch with your ex, it is still possible to obtain a divorce. Losing contact does not alter the divorce process, but does require you to undertake some additional steps before you issue your divorce petition.

The Court will want to know that you have made all reasonable attempts to trace your former partner before issuing your divorce. You could provide evidence that you have, for example, hired a private investigator, or that you have made your own enquiries of any of his friends and family or previous employers, or have searched social media. But what if, despite all reasonable endeavours, your efforts to locate your former spouse fail?

If you know your spouse’s date of birth, National Insurance number, and last known address, it is possible to apply to the Court for a Disclosure Order from HMRC. If that application this successful, the Court will order HMRC to divulge to it whatever information the Court requests.

Alternatively, where your spouse is, for example, a foreign national, and there is either no way of finding them, or you do not know of any relative on which papers could be served by way of substituted service, you can make an application to dispense with service of the divorce petition, which, if granted, will allow you to proceed with your divorce even though it is not possible to bring your application to the attention of your former partner.

The family team at SNS can help you with your divorce, children, and financial questions. We know that making the decision to start divorce proceedings is difficult. We will listen to what you want, advise you clearly and give you support and guidance through your divorce. If you wish to speak with one of our specialist solicitors in confidence please contact us on 01622 23 88 50, or at If you wish to speak with Richard or Tanya, our family law solicitors, you can email or

Watch this space next week for Myth Number 9.

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