Married Abroad. So Where Do I Divorce?

Saturday Dec 17, 2016 Divorce

Many enjoy the idealistic wedding abroad, sandy beach, all-inclusive resorts where you can get the wedding and honeymoon all in one package deal. Or perhaps you’ve gone on holiday to Vegas had a whirlwind romance and decided to get hitched within 5 days in front of Elvis. No matter where you’ve got bethroved in this world when you’re back living in blighty contemplating whether marriage is really for you, you may be wondering where you can then dissolve the marriage. Do you have to go back to the Nevada dessert? Well in a nutshell, no.

The reality is that there is no real connection between the place/country where the marriage ceremony took place and where you might then want to get divorced. What is most relevant is that those separating have a connecting factor to the country where they are seeking their divorce. One of the questions a potential divorcee in the UK will be asked is if they and their spouse are domiciled – this means the country that a person treats as their permanent home, or lives in and has a substantial connection with.


The rule that governs whether a court in the European Union [except Demark] has the jurisdiction for a divorce is practically the same everywhere, the only difference that the UK and Ireland contains is that where one is domiciled rather than what their nationality is what the deciding factor is.

If you are domiciled in the UK you can apply for the divorce if you can show one of the following;

  1. You and your partner and both habitually resident in the UK
  2. Both of you were habitually resident in the UK and one of you still is living in the UK.
  3. The Respondent [not the person who petitions the divorce] is habitually resident in the UK.
  4. The person who starts the divorce is habitually resident there and has lived in the UK for at least a year immediately before starting the divorce application.
  5. The person who starts the divorce is a national of that country or in relation to the UK and Ireland is domiciled there, and is habitually resident and has lived there for at least 6 months immediately before starting the divorce application; or
  6. Both spouses are a national of that country or been domiciled.

It is possible that each spouse can apply for divorces in different countries, however there are of course different rules for divorces in different countries. One factor that makes a divorce in the UK and Ireland more appealing than that of other EU countries is that there is no minimum separation period requirement in England. As financial matters are dealt with quite differently in differing countries one must be pretty steadfast with getting their application in to the court also as the rule that thereafter follows in the EU is that where the divorce application was first made is the country in which the divorce will prevail and continue. Therefore the divorce started in the later country will be dismissed and heard no further.