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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Scots Law
Satisfied Customers: 12176
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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My partner (who is British) wishes to divorce his wife with

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My partner (who is British) wishes to divorce his wife with whom he has not been in contact at all since their separation over 15 years ago. They were married in Papua New Guinea and she is a PNG national. Her last known address (in PNG) was destroyed by volcanic eruption years ago and we have no contact details for her whatsoever. We are resident in Scotland and want to get married but don't know how to proceed with a divorce without any means of contacting my partner's former wife. Can you advise us please?
Thank you for your question.
Your partner can raise a simplified procedure divorce. If he wants to attempt this himself, he should go with his marriage certificate to the sheriff court nearest to where he lives to get the form. He should explain the problem to the sheriff clerk. Intimation on the walls of court will have to be made in place of service on the wife. In addition if relatives of the wife can't be traced, the court will have to grant a dispensation.
Rather than do this himself, he may want to get a solicitor to do this for him but it is certainly possible to do the divorce even where the wife can't be traced. It will cost about £250 plus VAT plus the current court fee.
Here are the relevant Rules of Court for you to read:
"Citation where address not known
33.77.​(1)​ In a simplified divorce application in which the facts in section 1(2)(e) of the Act of 1976 (no cohabitation for two years) or section 1(1)(b) of the Act of 1976 (grounds of divorce: interim gender recognition certificate) are relied on and the address of the other party to the marriage is not known and cannot reasonably be ascertained-
(a) ​citation shall be executed by displaying a copy of the application and a notice in Form F36 on the walls of court on a period of notice of 21 days; and
​​(b)​ intimation shall be made to-
(i) ​every child of the marriage between the parties who has reached the age of 16 years, and
(ii) ​one of the next-of-kin of the other party to the marriage who has reached that age, unless the address of such person is not known and cannot reasonably be ascertained.
(2)​ Intimation to a person referred to in paragraph (1)(b) shall be given by intimating a copy of the application and a notice of intimation in Form F37."
Happy to discuss further.
I hope this helps. Please leave a positive response so that I am credited for my time.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
That's very helpful, thank you. But we have a slight problem in that my partner doesn't think he kept the marriage certificate. Presumably we need to get a copy somehow. The marriage took place in Papua New Guinea so does this mean we have to contact the PNG High Commission in London or is there another route? I hope you can advise on this point.
I can only advise you to contact the commission for advice on how you can get a replacement. If you make efforts and still can't get one, you can ask the court to dispense with the marriage certificate but the court would only do this in exceptional circumstances.
Volcanic eruption would appear to be pretty exceptional if that had to be argued.
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