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Home » Advice Centre » FAQ: Can I divorce in the UK if either my spouse or I live abroad?

FAQ: Can I divorce in the UK if either my spouse or I live abroad?

Posted on: 6 December 2023 by Goodwins Family Law Solicitors

Please note – divorce laws differ throughout the countries in the UK. You can get divorced in England and Wales if you or your spouse are currently living abroad, depending on several factors. This is a complex area of family law and we recommend you contact an international divorce solicitor at the earliest opportunity to discuss your specific case.

Ultimately, you or your spouse need to have a sufficient connection with England and Wales to be able to petition here. However, you don’t have to be in England to be granted a divorce here. You may be eligible if:

  • You or your spouse is domiciled in England and Wales when divorce proceedings begin
  • The Respondent is habitually resident in England or Wales
  • The Petitioner is habitually resident in England or Wales and has been so residing for at least one year immediately before the petition is issued
  • The Petitioner is domiciled in England or Wales and has been residing there for at least six months immediately before the petition is issued
  • You or your spouse were habitually resident in England or Wales last and one of you still lives here

‘Domicile’ is a concept that is used to link a person to a specific legal system – it primarily takes into account where you were born, but it can be possible to change it later, based upon where you are living and where you may possibly be living in the future. Using this concept, we will be able to determine whether or not you are eligible for divorce using the English courts.

Post-Brexit Changes in Divorce Jurisdiction and Recognition:

  • Jurisdiction Criteria

Following Brexit, the UK courts have revised the jurisdiction criteria for divorcing when one spouse lives abroad. The courts now primarily consider the habitual residence and domicile of the parties involved, rather than the previous EU-wide rules.

  • EU Divorce Petition Rule

The prior EU rule, which stated that the first EU country to receive a divorce petition would handle the case, no longer applies. UK residents seeking a divorce are now subject to UK courts handling petitions based on national criteria, independent of EU regulations.

  • Recognition of UK Divorces in EU

UK divorces may not be automatically recognised in EU member states post-Brexit. Parties involved should seek specific legal advice on the recognition process in the respective EU country, which may require additional legal steps or adherence to local laws.

Please note that every case is different and may not fit exactly with the above criteria – it is therefore essential to get in touch so we can provide tailored advice to your situation. If you live abroad, why not use our international video call service.

Are you currently considering a divorce in the UK?

The legal process of divorce can be challenging, especially when you or your spouse live outside the country. Goodwins Family Law Solicitors provide tailored legal advice for international divorce cases throughout the world and can help you to navigate the divorce process. Contact us today to book an initial fixed-fee consultation.

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Goodwins Family Law Solicitors is a registered company in England. © Goodwins Family Law Solicitors 2024. All Rights Reserved.

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