How to complete an Acknowledgement of Service form for divorce
If your ex has started divorce proceedings in England or Wales, you will be known as the respondent because it is your role to respond to the divorce papers. Your ex is known as the petitioner. After the court has received the petitioner’s divorce application, the court will send an Acknowledgement of Service to you.
What is an Acknowledgement of Service?
An Acknowledgement of Service is a legal document used during divorce proceedings.
The purpose of this document is for the respondent to tell the court that they’ve received the divorce paperwork and they acknowledge that the petitioner wants to divorce them. They must complete the document, stating whether they agree to the divorce, and return it to the court.
How does the Acknowledgement of Service fit in the divorce proceedings?
To get a divorce in England or Wales, you must have been married for at least a year. The document that starts the divorce is known as a divorce petition. The current law requires that one spouse petitions against the other, even if both agree to the divorce.
To start a divorce, the petition is completed and sent to the court. It provides information about the couple and tells the court why the marriage has irretrievably broken down using one of the following five reasons or facts:
- your spouse has committed adultery, and you find it intolerable to live with them
- your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them (known as unreasonable behaviour)
- your spouse has deserted you for two years
- you have lived apart for two years, and your spouse consents to the divorce
- you have lived apart for five years
For more information, see How to start a divorce using the right divorce grounds.
The court then sends the petition to the respondent together with the Acknowledgement of Service.
The respondent must complete the Acknowledgement of Service, stating whether they intend to defend the divorce. The form has to be sent back to the court within seven days. This deadline is longer if the respondent lives outside of England and Wales.
If the respondent doesn’t return the Acknowledgment of Service, you may have to serve the divorce petition by hand. For more information, see My spouse won’t respond to the divorce petition – now what can I do?
How to fill out an Acknowledgement of Service form
The Acknowledgment of Service form asks several questions. Here is some guidance on how to answer them.
1. Have you received the divorce petition?
You should have received a copy of the divorce petition with the acknowledgement of service, so the answer should be yes.
1A. Are there any court proceedings in any countries outside England and Wales relating to the marriage?
The answer to this will usually be no, but if there are divorce proceedings in another country, then the response will be yes. You then need to describe the other divorce case briefly.
1B. In which country are you habitually resident, where are you domiciled and of which country are you a national?
The answer to each part of this question might not be the same. Habitual residence is where a person lives or spends most of their time. Domiciled is your permanent home – the place you pay taxes, vote and claim benefits.
1D. Do you agree with the jurisdiction set out in the petition? If not, please state why you disagree.
Jurisdiction is the country where the divorce will be processed. If you think your divorce should be heard in another country, answer no.
2. On which date and at which address did you receive the petition?
Confirm the date you received the divorce petition and the address it was sent to you.
3. Are you the person named as the respondent in the petition?
You should answer yes to this question unless you are a co-respondent (used in the case of adultery [link].
4. Do you intend to defend the case?
You should answer no unless you have a good reason. If you intend to defend a divorce, then you should get legal advice from a solicitor. Defending a divorce will increase your legal costs.
In the case of unreasonable behaviour, it is possible to disagree with the statement but not defend it. Contact us for details on how and why you might do this.
5. In the case of a petition alleging adultery, do you admit to the adultery?
If it isn’t an adultery case, state not applicable – N/A.
6. Even if you do not intend to defend the case, do you object to paying the cost of the proceedings? If so, on what grounds?
Unless you have an agreement about paying the costs, say yes, costs not sought. You can make an informal agreement with your spouse to pay your own divorce costs or to split the total cost equally between you.
Question 7 isn’t applicable, ignore.
8. In the case of proceedings relating to a polygamous marriage
Most likely to be not applicable – N/A
Signing the Acknowledgement of Service form
If you don’t have a solicitor acting for you, sign, date and provide your address for service in section 9(a). If a solicitor is working for you, they will complete section 9b.
You have seven days from receipt of your Acknowledgement of Service form to complete and return it to the court. Send your completed form to the Court Manager, quoting your case number (No. of matter) to the address written at the bottom of the Acknowledgement of Service form.
If you have any questions about Acknowledgement of Service or divorce in general, call us on 0204 530 8101 or schedule a free consultation below.