Can I get a divorce in the UK if I now live overseas? banner

Can I get a divorce in the UK if I now live overseas?

The breakdown of a marriage is often a complex and emotionally charged process to undertake, with significant aspects to address, including arrangements for children and agreeing to a voluntary divorce financial settlement. These circumstances can be made even more complicated when you are living abroad.

If you initially got married in the UK but have since moved abroad, it can feel daunting trying to obtain a divorce, particularly if you are unsure whether you can get a divorce in England and Wales now you live abroad, and the process of doing so.

There are a number of requirements for someone to be eligible to obtain a divorce in England and Wales if they currently live overseas.

In this article, we take a look at international divorce and if it is possible to obtain a divorce in the UK if you now live overseas. We also consider other frequently asked questions, including how to get a UK divorce when living abroad, what the requirements are to get a divorce in England and Wales, where you should get divorced, and if you need a solicitor.

How do you get a UK divorce living abroad?

It is possible to get a divorce in England and Wales, even in circumstances where you are habitually resident in a different country.

Should you meet the eligibility requirements to acquire a UK divorce, it is crucial to appoint a solicitor to handle all legal matters on your behalf.

There is no need to attend a court hearing when applying for divorce in England and Wales. Instead, the application process involves your solicitor filling out a divorce application form and submitting it to the court.

Once the proceeding request has been acknowledged, there is a minimum of 20 weeks before the conditional order can be applied for, then a further 6 weeks before applying for the final order.

What are the requirements to get divorced in the UK?

To obtain a divorce in the UK, specifically England and Wales, you will need to determine whether the courts have jurisdiction over the divorce matter.

It is important to note that you do not need to be a British citizen or be currently residing in the UK for the courts to have jurisdiction.

There are seven categories you can fall under to possibly be eligible to receive a divorce in the UK. These include:

  1. Both spouses have habitual residence in England or Wales
  2. Both spouses were previously habitually residents in England or Wales, and one spouse continues to reside there
  3. The spouse receiving the application is habitually resident in England or Wales
  4. The spouse initiating divorce proceedings is habitually resident in England or Wales for a minimum of 12 months
  5. The spouse initiating divorce proceedings is domiciled and habitually resident in England or Wales for a minimum of 6 months
  6. Both spouses or either spouse is domiciled in England or Wales.

However, the court will need to determine that you are ‘habitually resident’ in England or Wales, such as:

  • How long you have lived in England and Wales
  • How regularly you are in England and Wales
  • Your reason for being in either country
  • If your children attend school there
  • Whether you speak English or Welsh
  • To what extent you have integrated into society
  • Whether you pay tax
  • Whether you own property in either country

Where should I get divorced?

If you are eligible to get divorced in England and Wales, and another country, such as the one you currently reside in, it is worth taking a careful look at both English law and the other country’s laws.

You may find that a divorce in the country you are living in could negatively impact you financially by favouring your spouse over you. In situations like these, it may be more beneficial to start your divorce in England and Wales, where getting a divorce is a quicker, cheaper and more straightforward process overall since the introduction of the Divorce, Separation and Dissolution Act 2020. In the UK, the courts will always aim to find a fair outcome for both parties.

There are other factors to take into consideration, too, including how long the divorce will take, the costs involved, and how arrangements and the needs of children are taken into consideration.

Before making a decision, it is wise to seek advice and guidance from an experienced solicitor who will be able to assess the details of your situation and how divorce may differ in each country. From this, your solicitor will be able to advise you on the most appropriate option, which best protects your interests and those of any children in the marriage.

Do you need a solicitor?

If you do not currently reside in the UK and wish to get a divorce, it’s prudent to seek legal advice and guidance from a solicitor.

Your instructed international divorce solicitor will be able to review the circumstances of your particular case and demonstrate that a court in England or Wales has legal jurisdiction to entertain proceedings for divorce, even where you currently reside abroad.

They will be able to guide you on the most suitable route, as well as navigate you through the divorce process in the chosen country, including conditional order and final order applications and arrangements for finances and children.

Speak to our international divorce solicitors in Bristol and Bath

To arrange an initial meeting with one of our international divorce solicitors, whether that is in person or electronically, please give us a call or use our simple enquiry form to request a call back.


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