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Understanding International Divorce

Updated: Aug 11, 2021

If you have connections to other countries due to birth or by residential status and you choose to begin the process of separation from your spouse/partner, you may find that one or more country can deal with the financial aspects of your separation. Therefore, requiring the process of an international divorce. When you apply for a divorce in a country other than where you are living, or where your permanent home is, this is known as an international divorce. This might happen because you live abroad for work, because you and your ex-partner have ended up living in different countries, or because you have different nationalities.

Whatever the reason for needing an international divorce, you will need to begin by doing two things:

1. Work out which countries you can get a divorce in

2. Find out If you have a choice of more than one country, work out which one is likely to give you the best outcome.

How the location of your divorce can affect your settlement

In some countries it is important to understand that your financial assets may be divided very differently to how they may be split in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland. For example, in Scotland only assets of owned or acquired during the marriage or civil partnership will be considered during your divorce or dissolution. In other countries outside of the UK, you may find rules are very different. In some instances, couples do not have to discuss their individual financial assets during divorce or dissolution.

You can only get divorced in another country under certain circumstances

1. Your marriage must be legally recognised in the country where you want to apply for a divorce

2. You need to be able to have proof that you or your ex-partner has a connection with the country that you want to apply for a divorce in

Many countries have rules to work out if you have a connection to that country that are about:

• Being a ‘national’ of that country – to be considered a national you must have an official right to be a member of a nation state. This is acquired either through birth, your parent’s nationality, adoption, or marriage.

• Being ‘habitually resident’ in that country – this means you are regularly living in this country. You must be able to prove that you have been settled in this country or have plans to stay long-term. To prove habitual residence will differ from country to country, so it is very important you understand the law, this can be made simpler by seeking the guidance of a legal professional.

• Being ‘domiciled’ in that country – again rules on being considered ‘domicile’ will differ from country to country. In England and Wales ‘domicile’ is where your permanent home is. Even if you are living abroad for work you may not have made this permanent. Therefore, your birth country (England or Wales in this instance) would be where you are ‘domiciled’.

Deciding what to do next

When deciding you would like to follow through with an international divorce, your next steps should be to get legal advice from a specialist family law solicitor. Navigating family law alone can be complicated beside having to deal with the legal processes of more than one country.

Contact Carole Nettleton

With hands on experience of international divorce I can provide you the legal advice and guidance necessary to support you in this situation. Even If you are based outside the UK, I can correspond with you by email and I can arrange interviews by phone, Skype, Facetime, Microsoft Teams or Zoom. If you wish to discuss matters, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me.

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