International Family Law


Our Family Law team are specialists in providing legal advice on International Divorce. 

Those facing a relationship breakdown are increasingly finding that their situation involves an international element. International divorce can be complicated as the financial outcomes of a divorce can vary significantly from country to country. Even if your divorce goes ahead in England and Wales, you may have to deal with different jurisdictions to deal with overseas assets.

You should seek advice right at the outset to find out whether you are eligible to divorce in England and Wales. In most cases, once a divorce has been commenced in one jurisdiction, the decisions regarding the finances will take place there too. This is significant if you and your spouse have ties to other countries because the laws of another country might be more advantageous or disadvantageous to you.

The consequences of divorcing in the UK or abroad can be significant and it is therefore important that you take advice as early as possible. 

Our family team are able to advise you as to whether you are able to divorce in England and Wales in light of your domicile or habitual residence.

PDF: Can I get a divorce in England and Wales?

Where is the best place to divorce?

This is not an easy question to answer as laws differ from country to country. The laws in one country might be more or less advantageous to you. It is therefore very important to take advice as early as possible from a family lawyer in the UK and also from the other jurisdiction so you can make a decision where is best for you to start any proceedings.

What is the international divorce process?

At the meeting we will explain to you the divorce process in depth. As a snapshot, the party who wishes to petition for the divorce will need to lodge the petition at the court, and it will then be ‘issued’ by the court and a copy sent to the respondent. The respondent will need to file at the court an ‘acknowledgment of service’ to confirm they have received the petition. The next stage is an application for Decree Nisi (a ‘conditional’ order for divorce), and then Decree Absolute (an order that makes your divorce final).

How long does it take to get divorced?

The divorce process can take up to six months from first issuing the divorce petition to Decree Absolute. There is usually no need to attend court unless there is a disagreement about the reasons for the divorce or over the costs.

The divorce process can be prolonged if, for example, your spouse or civil partner delays acknowledging the divorce papers, or, as occurs more commonly, delays are caused by the parties trying to negotiate a financial settlement.

My spouse and I are based in the UK but we got married abroad. Do we have to divorce in the country where we married?

Just because you married in another country does not necessarily mean you have to divorce there. It depends on a number of factors and it might be the case that your divorce is more appropriately dealt with in England and Wales, particularly if all your assets are in the UK and you have no other ties to the country where you married.

How is jurisdiction determined?

You need to be able to prove that you have a connection to the country where your application is to be submitted i.e. by showing you or your spouse are habitually resident in a country or you are domiciled there or a national of that country. You can’t just pick a country and start proceedings there because the law seems more advantageous to you.

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    International Divorce Team

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