Can I divorce in the UK if either my spouse or I live abroad?
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.
There are though, a number of complexities surrounding international divorce law. For example, in the EU, the legal system that receives the divorce petition first will deal with it, so it is important you act swiftly if you would like to use the English courts. For divorce between England and non-EU countries, speed is still highly important, however divorces tend to be granted in countries which have the closest connection to the couple.
Another example is that you are actually not eligible to divorce in England if you got married here but are currently neither domiciled nor resident here.
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 Skype service.