Can I Divorce in England and Wales if I Got Married Overseas?

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In most cases you can apply for divorce in the UK if you got married abroad.

You can get a divorce in England or Wales if both you and your former partner are habitually resident or domiciled in the UK. This means if England or Wales is your main home, where your life is based in the main, if it is where you intend to return to, or if it is your permanent home.

If one of you has moved overseas then the other must be able to call England or Wales their main home, either where they live now or will live again in the future.

The rules around divorce in the UK can become confusing when one or both of you are living somewhere else, especially if your travel is being restricted right now because of the coronavirus pandemic. This might leave you uncertain of when you or your ex will return to the UK.

If you got married overseas and are considering getting a divorce in England or Wales, you should get legal advice to see what your options are.

Our International Divorce Lawyers are experts at handling complex divorce cases and can reassure you in this uncertain time. We can help you divide overseas assets and can advise you every step of the way. Contact us for initial legal advice.

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Can I Get Divorced if My Former Partner is Out of the Country?

If you are habitually resident or domiciled in the UK, you can get divorced in England or Wales even if your partner lives abroad.

In some circumstances, you may need your partner’s consent to get a divorce and their contact information will be required. So it’s is important that your former partner can be located and contacted in order to be served with the divorce petition (divorce papers) even though they’re in a different country.

If you’re both living outside of the UK, then speak to a Divorce Solicitor about the rules around domicile and habitual residency. If your family live in the UK and for example you’re registered with a doctors here, then you will likely be able to start your divorce proceedings in England or Wales.

Everyone’s situation is different, and we can advise you on what will work best for your divorce depending on your circumstances.

Will the UK Court Recognise My Marriage?

The UK Court will recognise your marriage if you:

  • Followed the legal marriage process in the country that you were married in
  • The terms of the marriage would be allowed in the UK

So if your marriage was legal and official, then the English Courts will recognise you as being legally married.

Do I Need a Marriage Certificate to Get a Divorce?

You’ll need to include your original marriage certificate when you apply for a divorce.

If your marriage certificate is in a different language because you got married outside of the UK, then you’ll need to also attach a certified translation of the marriage certificate to your divorce application. We can help you get a certified translation if you need one.

If you don’t have a marriage certificate, you should contact the local authorities in the place you were married to get one. We understand this might be difficult, especially during the pandemic. So we will help you as much as we can to get a copy of your marriage certificate so you can start the divorce proceedings as soon as possible.

If your former partner is trying to start divorce proceedings in a different country, and getting a marriage certificate might slow down your divorce process, the English Courts might allow the divorce to go ahead without a marriage certificate. This is only in rare circumstances and you must make a legal promise to obtain the marriage certificate as soon as possible.

How to File for Divorce if You Got Married Overseas

The divorce process is exactly the same as if you got married in the UK. If you have your marriage certificate, proceedings will continue as usual. And you might even be able to file for your divorce online, with our Fixed Fee Divorce option.

If you cannot agree on all of the terms of your divorce, for example if your former partner wants to get divorced abroad or if you can’t decide who gets to keep your holiday home, then your divorce might take longer and could cost you more.

When getting a divorce with international elements, it’s always advised that you get legal advice. Our Divorce Solicitors are experienced in international divorce and we understand that every situation is different, so we can help you with your unique circumstances.

We can reassure you if you’re unsure about any part of your divorce, and we can help settle disputes between you and your former partner when dividing assets.

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