When the decision to divorce is a mutual one, you and your spouse can file a joint application. This is one of the first steps of the process. Any issues about the division of assets, ongoing financial support, and custody arrangements for any children will be determined at a later stage during mediation. However, the decision isn't always so mutual, and you might need to serve your spouse with divorce documents. This might not be such a smooth process when your spouse no longer lives in Australia.
Make a Reasonable Effort
The fact that your spouse resides in another country doesn't absolve you from your obligation to serve the relevant paperwork. You're not expected to travel to the country in question yourself in order to hand over the documents but you must make a reasonable effort to ensure that your spouse takes possession of the paperwork. If your relationship is still amicable or neutral, you can simply contact your spouse and ask for an address where the paperwork can be sent via registered international post or courier. And yet making contact with a spouse living overseas may not be that straightforward. You might need some assistance.
Hire Process Servers
There are numerous process serving companies in Australia, although you should look for a provider with an international outreach. The company may not have international offices as such, but will have representatives or partner companies in various other international jurisdictions. The first thing you need to ask is if the process serving company will be able to serve the divorce paperwork to your spouse in their country of residence.
Locate Your Spouse
Once you've confirmed the process serving company's ability to fulfil the task, you will be asked to provide as much information as possible to aid the process. Most of this information is fairly logical, such as any residential address for your spouse in their country of residence (if known), any contact information (telephone number, email address, and even social media accounts), their workplace, and details of any family members in the country in question. This simply allows your international process server to locate your spouse.
Request a Dispensation of Service
If the international process server is unable to find your spouse, you should discuss the matter with your solicitor. They can assist you with requesting a dispensation of service, which is when you've made every reasonable effort to locate your spouse, but have been unable to do so. Certain criteria must be fulfilled before a dispensation can be granted.
International borders won't prevent a divorce from taking place, but it can sometimes make serving divorce papers a little more difficult.
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