The process of an international divorce

When filing for divorce in a situation which involves two or more countries there are some different steps you will need to take. Whether you have connections to another country due to birth or residential status, you will find multiple countries can deal with the financial aspects of your separation. This is known as an international divorce. The advice and legal guidance of a family law solicitor is vital during this process due to the various complications which may arise. 

Beginning the process of an international divorce

To begin the process of an international divorce, it would be advisable to firstly decide with countries the proceedings could be issued. Secondly, find out what the likely outcomes could be in these countries by requesting legal advice. This should include sourcing a family law solicitor in both countries, where a legal expert in these jurisdictions can provide you the relevant information for their specific legal system. Finally, you should arrange for a petition to be issued, where appropriate. This can depend upon where the proceedings started first. 

Which country can I get a Divorce? 

Many people may believe in order to divorce, they should divorce in the country they were married in. If you are now living in another country and are settled, as long as your marriage is legally recognised here, you can get divorced in this country too. For many couples this means they can in fact get divorced in more than one country. As mentioned above, getting the correct legal advice from a divorce solicitor will help you to decide which country is best. 

The rules surrounding divorce in England and Wales 

To access the divorce courts of England and Wales, there are certain rules. These rules are related to whether you are “domiciled” in England and Wales, or “habitually resident”, alternatively you may be connected to either country in some way. This connection must be deemed sufficient for you to be divorced in England and Wales. In order to access the divorce courts here, the following criteria states: 

  • You are both last habitually resident here and one of you still resides here or;
  • Your spouse is habitually resident here or;
  • You are habitually resident here and you have lived here for at least one year immediately before the petition or;
  • You are habitually resident here and you have lived here for at least six months before the petition or;
  • You are both domiciled here.

You may be confused as to what these terms mean, and which applies to yourself. Legal jargon can certainly make this process confusing. Domicile and habitual residences are legal concepts. Therefore, seeking advice from a professional and experienced divorce solicitor will help to clarify your status within the country. Advising you on whether it is possible for you to divorce your spouse in England and Wales. 

International Divorce and Children 

When a marriage breaks up and children are involved, parents will have many questions surrounding arrangements for their children. In an international divorce this can be an even bigger concern. Particularly if one partner expresses their wish to relocate abroad or move back home. This places the issue of childcare and maintenance at the core of the divorce proceedings. 

According to the law in the UK, re-locating a child under the age of 16 to a different country, against the wishes of their spouse is against the law. Where cases of this have happened in the past, custodial sentences have been handed out to the parent who chose to leave the country, taking their child or children with them. 

The rules surrounding arrangements for children of your relationship during an international divorce will depend upon the outcome of your divorce proceedings. The outcome of your international divorce can drastically differ, depending upon which country you choose to divorce. Again, this is another important reason to seek legal advice before beginning international divorce proceedings.  


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