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05 December 2019

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Family Law


Family law - Reasonable attempts to serve the other party

I act for the wife and the parties separated some years ago but never divorced. The wife now seeks to remarry and wants a divorce but cannot locate the husband. I have contacted the last known address, made general enquiries online and searched the electoral roll.

What other searches can I do? If none, can I just apply to the court to dispense with service of the divorce application?


Thank you for the question.

It is necessary to satisfy the court that all reasonable attempts have been made to notify the other party.

Where traditional methods are ineffective, where service via social media may be accepted by the court. Mentor suggests searching social media and other electronic means such as email, WhatsApp, Viber or Facebook and any other means of online communication the husband may use.

The client would then swear an affidavit setting out the attempts made to bring the material to the husband’s attention, including any responses. Relevant annexures to that affidavit might include any read receipts from emails, WhatsApp screenshots or appropriate evidence from other platforms.

If contact is made, file an application in a case seeking an order for substituted service, rather than dispensation of service, with an affidavit in support. However, seek dispensation of service if no contact is made.