If I got married abroad can I still get a divorce in England or Wales?

The idea of getting married abroad can be an appealing one. In fact, the latest statistics estimate that almost 1 in 4 couples now decide to marry abroad each year. Warm weather, smaller guest lists, combining the ceremony with the honeymoon – these are among the main reasons given for jetting off to complete nuptials.

But if the marriage doesn’t work out and you decide the time is right to file for divorce, does this mean that you have to dissolve your marriage in the very same country?

In most cases, it is possible to divorce in England or Wales if you have married in another country. This is, however, dependent on meeting certain criteria in relation to domicile or habitual residence.

Currently, English and Welsh Courts are able to hear a divorce petition if it has jurisdiction under Article 3 of Brussels II – a European Union regulation that requires you or your spouse to have resided or been habitually resident in England and Wales for a period of time, which is usually between 6 and 12 months depending on the circumstances. If you and your spouse have a complex residence history that has involved moving between countries in the time that you have been married, it is important to speak to a legal service provider to get expert advice on the individual circumstances of your case

There are instances where it may be advantageous to divorce in another country. For example, if you have entered into a prenuptial agreement abroad that would not be recognised in England and Wales. However, there are also instances where petitioning for a divorce in England and Wales offers greater benefits to one or both of the parties involved. The English Family Court has a wide range of discretionary powers that can make the divorce process easier. This has led to the country being labelled the “divorce capital of Europe”.

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Please note: The information on this page was correct at the time of publication but we're awaiting information on how the process will be affected by our departure from the European Union.


Adam Rivers

Adam creates supportive, easy to read guides for The Law Superstore. He specialises in family law, helping people through divorce, child custody arrangements, and other relationship issues.

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