Getting Divorced – Not Knowing Where Your Ex Now Is

If you are married or in a civil partnership, you can get a divorce or dissolution even if you do not know where your husband, wife or civil partner is or they’re presumed dead.

If you do not know where they are

The process might be quicker if you can find their current address. The ways you can do this include contacting their:

  • relatives (including children)
  • friends
  • last known employer
  • trade union or professional organisation

Fill in the divorce petition with their current, or last known, address. You’ll also have to pay a £593 court fee.

If the petition or application is returned unopened

Your regional divorce centre will let you know if the divorce petition or dissolution application is returned unopened. You’ll then need to try another way to send it to your partner.

You can either:

You’ll have to pay a £53 (current) court fee for each.

If you still cannot find them, you’ll have to fill in the statement to dispense with service of petition or application. Return the statement to your regional divorce centre. You’ll have to pay a £53 (current) court fee.

If they’re presumed dead

If you have sufficient evidence that your partner has died, then you can fill in a petition for the presumption of death without sending a divorce petition or dissolution application.

You’ll have to pay a £365 court fee.

You can also use the presumption of death petition to remarry or form a new civil partnership, but not to get a death certificate, financial order (‘ancillary relief’) or apply for probate.


If you want to divorce but don’t know where your spouse is you have two options. You can find your spouse, or prove to the court that you have done everything in your power to locate your spouse.

The starting point would be to check on social media and reach out to old friends and family members. But if that isn’t successful and you still want to divorce without knowing your spouse’s address, you must complete a form known as a D13B. And this is where it becomes difficult and expensive because there are many hoops to jump through.

You must provide evidence that they no longer live at the last known address, which means providing letters that have been returned ‘not known at this address’ or details of enquiries made with the neighbours.

You have to provide details of your contact with known relatives and friends, make inquiries with their last known employer, and other professional organisations.

If you do not have contact with these people, then you would have to ask the court for an order that makes a government agency such as HMRC to provide the address they have on file.

You can also put a trace on them. A trace is where a specialist will follow a track to find a person. This can be credit  references, purchases and so on. 

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