Family Court of Western Australia

If you cannot locate your spouse

When making a divorce application, you need to serve the application on your spouse.

If you can’t locate your spouse, even after you have taken all reasonable steps to locate him/her, you can apply for an order to dispense with service.

Please note dispensation of service will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

You will need to have taken all reasonable steps to locate your spouse and refer to these steps in your affidavit supporting your application.

To apply to the Court for dispensation of service, you need to complete an:

  • application in a case, and
  • affidavit.

Application in a case

An Application in a Case (Form 2) is the form you complete whenever your are requesting the Court to make orders in a case which is already underway.

You complete the form and state you are requesting the court to dispense with service because you cannot locate your spouse. The affidavit you file will contain the details of your efforts to locate your spouse.

There is no court fee associated with filing an application in a case seeking an order to dispense with service.


The affidavit is where you explain all the steps you have taken to locate your spouse. For example:

  • the efforts and enquiries you made to find your spouse.
  • details of the last time you saw or communicated with your spouse.
  • your spouse’s last known address.
  • Who your spouse’s nearest relatives and friends are, and details of the enquiries you made of these people.
  • What employment, if any, your spouse had.
  • Details of the enquiries you made with your spouse’s last known employer.
  • Details of any current child support or maintenance arrangements or orders. If correspondence has been received from the Department of Human Services (Child Support), attach a copy to your affidavit.
  • Details of any property, bank accounts or businesses jointly owned.
  • If the respondent lives overseas, details where they are living, how long they have lived there and if they plan to travel or move back to Australia.
  • Any reasons why the respondent may not be contactable.
  • The costs of trying to locate the respondent and whether such costs are creating financial difficulties for you.
  • Any other relevant information that may help the Court.

Once you have completed the forms, file them with the Court.

Next steps

An application for substituted service or dispensation of service related to a divorce application will usually be listed on the same day and time as the divorce hearing.

If you have applied for substituted service or dispensation of service, you should attend the court hearing. You may be required to give more information to the Court. This applies even if you have chosen not to attend the hearing on your Application for Divorce.

The Court may adjourn your case and direct you to take extra steps to find the respondent. For example, to send a letter to the respondent’s relatives or friends, search the electoral roll or advertise in a local, national or overseas newspaper.

Last updated: 1-May-2019

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