Info & Advice

We own a joint house that needs to be dealt with but my spouse won’t engage with my solicitor. What can I do?

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If your spouse is not going to engage in the divorce process to resolve the financial matters then you would ultimately need to make an application to court. In most cases you would need to attend a mediation appointment before going to court. You would have a 1-2-1 with a mediator to discuss your case. The mediator would then contact your spouse to explain the benefits of mediation and why it is in their interests to resolve matters outside of court. However, if your spouse is still burying their head in the sand and not engaging then you would need to press on with a court application, with the mediator giving you a certificate to allow you to do this.

What happens after my application has been sent to court?

The court will fix a date for when you and your spouse must exchange financial disclosure. The court will send an order to both you and your spouse setting out that date. A first court hearing date will also be fixed.

What if my spouse ignores the court order?

If your spouse ignores the court order and still fails to engage then you could ask the court to attach a Penal Notice to the order. That would be an official warning to your spouse that they must comply with the court’s order and that if they don’t then they will be in contempt of court, which could result in their imprisonment or a fine.

If that still does not work then you could invite the court to proceed with your application in your spouse’s absence. You would need to satisfy the court that your spouse is aware of the court proceedings but is choosing not to engage.

What happens if the Judge allows the case to proceed without my spouse?

The court would list a Final Hearing and would make decisions based on your evidence only. The Judge could then make an order that the house be sold or transferred to you. Judges have the legal power in this instance to sign forms on behalf of your spouse – for example, the Judge could say that they will sign the relevant transfer deed and/or sale documents on behalf of your spouse.

If the Judge is satisfied that your spouse’s deliberate and chosen non-engagement has caused you to incur additional legal costs (which it would, as you would be going to a Final Hearing at court) then the Judge could also make costs orders against your spouse. i.e. order that your spouse pay all or some of your legal costs for having to bring the case to court. If a costs order is made then the Judge could deduct it from the share of the equity that your spouse is awarded.

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