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I married outside of the UK. Can I Divorce in the UK?


Many couples marry abroad for a range of different reasons. This could be because one or both spouses are not originally from England or Wales, or they are UK residents but choose to marry abroad. For some couples the ideal wedding venue is somewhere exotic overseas.

Whatever the reason for marrying outside of the UK, a couple can still get divorced in the UK regardless of where the marriage was located.

What documents do I need to get divorced in England and Wales?  

In most cases, you do not have to divorce in the same country you were married. Divorce proceedings can be commenced in England and Wales if you have a valid Marriage Certificate. You will need a copy of your Marriage Certificate for your Divorce Application.

If the marriage took place abroad, then it may be the case that the Marriage Certificate is not in English, in this case you will need a properly certified translation of the Marriage Certificate. A Family Law Solicitor can arrange this for you.

If I marry abroad, will my marriage still be recognised in England and Wales?

The answer to this question is usually Yes. For a marriage abroad to be valid in the UK it must have complied with the local custom and law in the country where the marriage took place.

If the marriage is not lawful then there cannot be a divorce.

Can I get a Divorce in England and Wales if I married abroad?

You can still obtain a divorce in England providing that certain criteria are met.

The English Courts have jurisdiction to deal with a divorce on the basis that one of the following applies:

  • The parties married each other under the Law of England and Wales, and it would be in the interests of justice for the Court to assume jurisdiction in this case. (Applies to same sex married couples only).
  • The applicant to the divorce is domiciled and habitually resident in England and Wales and has resided there for a least 6 months immediately before the application was made.
  • The Respondent is habitually resident in England and Wales.
  • Both parties to the marriage are domiciled in England and Wales.
  • Both parties to the marriage are habitually resident in England and Wales.
  • The applicant is habitually resident in England and Wales and has resided there for at least one year immediately before the application was made.

You will be asked to confirm which of the above applies to your circumstances on your divorce application.

Can I get divorced in England and Wales if my Spouse lives in another country?

The answer is yes. In circumstances where your spouse is abroad, but you are still living in England, you can start proceedings in England.

What is the difference between Domicile and Residence?

Domicile is the place or country you consider to be your permanent and lawful home and domicile of origin. It can be where your primary residence is or where you intend to return to after some time. You can only have one domicile home.

Residence is legally termed as a temporary home where you reside for a certain period of time. You can have more than one residence but can only have one domicile home.

The key difference between domicile and residence is a person’s intent of returning to the home they call their permanent home.

Therefore, if both you and your spouse are living outside Europe and one of you are domiciled in England and Wales you can still issue a Divorce Petition in England and Wales.

Domicile and habitual residence are complex legal areas, and each person’s circumstances are different. Therefore, when applying for a divorce it is important to consider your circumstances as to domicile and residency to see if you can apply for a divorce in England and Wales.

Divorcing in England and Wales

The ‘No Fault Divorce’ in England and Wales came into force in April 2022. It allows couples to apply for divorce without blaming the other party.  It is aimed at making the divorce process simpler and less contentious.

How can we help?

Here at Andrew Isaacs Law our expert lawyers can offer advice and support through your Divorce application. You can book a no obligation appointment for a fixed fee to receive tailored advice to you, consider your options and decide how you wish to move forward. Please contact us to book an appointment today.

Nicola Magrath – Family Solicitor


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