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What is an acknowledgement of service in a Divorce?

The divorce process is filled with confusing legalese. In order to prepare yourself for what lies ahead, it’s important to understand at least some of this legal jargon. An acknowledgement of service form is a key part of the divorce process.

In this article, we will explain what an acknowledgement of service form is, when you should expect to receive it and the next steps you’ll need to take when you do.


What is an acknowledgement of service?

The acknowledgement of service is the form that the respondent must complete and send to the court, in order to acknowledge receipt of the divorce petition.

On the acknowledgement of service form, the respondent will have to say if they agree with the divorce, whether they intend to defend the divorce (more on this later) and whether they object to paying the costs (if the petitioner has claimed costs).

In every divorce there is a ‘petitioner’ and a ‘respondent’. The petitioner is the person who initiates the divorce process. The other party is the respondent.

Once the petitioner has filed for divorce and the application has been checked, the court will send the respondent the divorce application (also known as the divorce petition), a notice of proceedings and the acknowledgement of service form.


When do I have to return the acknowledgement of service form?

The respondent is expected to return the acknowledgement of service form to the court within 8 days of receiving the notice of proceedings (within 7 days if responding online).

Bear in mind that the acknowledgement of service form could be sent to you either in the post or online.

Whether you can respond by post or online will depend on how the petitioner applied for divorce.

acknowledgement of service


What happens if I do not respond with the acknowledgement of service form?

If the respondent does not send back the acknowledgement of service form, the petitioner may still be allowed to proceed with the divorce if the court comes to the conclusion that the respondent has received the petition.

In some instances, the court may decide to send the paperwork to the respondent themselves, so that there is evidence that the petition has been received. There may be a cost associated with this, which the respondent could have to pay.


What can I do if I don’t agree with the divorce?

It is possible, albeit very unusual, to defend a divorce. The respondent will need to detail why they do not agree with the divorce on an ‘answer to a divorce petition’, which must be completed within 21 days of responding to the divorce petition. There will then be a court hearing.

Normally, a divorce petition will only be defended if the respondent either does not want to proceed with the divorce or does not agree with the grounds for divorce.


What happens next?

If the respondent agrees with the divorce, the next stage is to apply for the decree nisi. The petitioner will normally apply for this. Take a look at our article about the decree nisi for more information about this stage of the process.


How can our expert divorce solicitors help you with an acknowledgement of service?

Our expert family law solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues relating to acknowledgements of service, including:


Contact our expert divorce solicitors for advice on how to deal with an acknowledgement of service

For more information call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email

Our expert family law solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in:

Leeds Office: St Andrew House, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5JW

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

Halifax Office: Old Lane, Halifax, HX3 5WP

Huddersfield Office: Northumberland Street Huddersfield, HD1 1RL

Coventry Office: Warwick Road, Coventry, CV1 2DY

Canary Wharf Office: 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB

Please contact us for more details.

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12th December 2019

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