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

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Divorce laws differ greatly around the world, so if you or your spouse want to petition for divorce while living abroad, it’s essential to seek advice as soon as possible from a solicitor. Getting a divorce in the UK when you or your spouse lives overseas is, while possible, quite complex, as the recent court battle of Ferruccio Ferragamo and his wife Illaria Giusti highlights, and various factors can affect your eligibility.

Why do people living overseas seek divorce in the UK?

Although many countries will be able to process a divorce, the varying laws on divorce and family matters in each different country means that the outcomes will vary greatly. It may seem easy to seek a divorce in the country you live in, particularly as English law can be used overseas, but you may not get the results you desire. This is particularly important if you have children or lots of property and assets that need to be divided.

A solicitor will be able to assess your individual case and advise you on the best country for you to petition for divorce. It’s worth noting that speed is also a factor here, particularly if your separation was not amicable, as your ex-partner may take advantage of the laws in a different country. Generally the country that receives the petition for divorce first, will have exclusive jurisdiction. It is therefore important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible and try to come to an agreement through mediation if possible.

Who is eligible to get a divorce in the UK when living abroad?

If you want to use a court in England and Wales for your divorce, you need to prove that you have a sufficient connection to the country. Generally, you can bring divorce proceedings in England and Wales, if at least one of the following applies:

  • Both you and your ex-partner are habitually resident in England and Wales (living here)
  • Both you and your ex-partner were last habitually resident in England and Wales and one of you still resides here
  • The person responding to the divorce petition is habitually resident in England and Wales
  • The person applying for the divorce has been habitually resident in the UK for at least 6 months
  • Both you and your partner are domiciled in England and Wales (Domicile meaning the country that your treat as your permanent home or have a substantial connection to. You may be domiciled in the UK whilst living in another country).
  • If no EU contracting state has jurisdiction to divorce you

Deciding which country you can start divorce proceedings in, and which will best protect your interests, will be influenced by factors such as where you were born, where your parents were born, which country you registered your marriage or civil partnership and even where you own property. A specialist international divorce lawyer can help you through this process and will make sure that your children and finances are prioritised.

Get help with an international divorce

If you live overseas and would like to bring divorce proceedings in England or Wales, Crisp & Co’s specialist international divorce lawyers can help.

We have wide experience of dealing with all facets of international jurisdiction and family breakdown. You don’t need to come to the UK – we can arrange ‘virtual’ appointments to make sure you get the best outcome for you and your family.

Call us today on 020 8017 8962 of fill in our enquiry form at the bottom of this page.