How can I divorce someone who lives in the EU?

If you are part of an international family and are considering divorcing your spouse but are worried about the regulations, read our easy-to-understand guide below.

Divorce law post-Brexit

Before Brexit, the UK’s divorce rules were one of the few areas of family law where national law had been replaced entirely by EU law. However, since the UK has left the European Union (EU), the regulations have changed.

Where can my divorce take place?

If you live in the UK and your spouse lives in the EU, you may be able to use a UK Family Court for your divorce.

To decide which court has jurisdiction, you, and your spouse’s habitual residence (where you live regularly) needs determining. If either you or your spouse or both are ‘habitual’ residents of England and Wales, you may apply the English jurisdiction.

How do I know if I am a habitual resident?

UK legislation states that habitual residence applies from the date of issuing the English divorce proceedings, so long as the six to 12 months before this date, your ‘ordinary residence’ is in England or Wales.

Can I get divorced in a UK Family Court if married abroad?

Please note the law surrounding this question can become tricky, so it is best to seek specialist support from our family law team.

The UK does not always recognise marriages that had ceremonies in another country. Therefore, it must meet the following requirements to be validated by the UK:

If your marriage met the legal requirements of the country your ceremony took place in, then the marriage is valid, and you can start a divorce proceeding in an English Court.

If your marriage did not meet the legal requirements, it is not often valid by the English Courts, and they would not accept your divorce petition.

However, either you or your spouse could petition for the nullity of your marriage. This definition refers to when the marriage is void – no longer valid between you and your partner – as if it never happened (legally).

Please note that an annulment is not the same as a divorce. Divorce rather ends the marriage.

How can we help with your divorce?

Whatever decision you make regarding the separation of your marriage, our family law team is here to make the process easier for you.

We understand that it is a difficult time so please talk to us so we can advise you on the best possible solution.

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