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Divorcing outside the EU

Thursday, 25 June 2015

clip_image001In our recent blog we looked at some of the differences between divorcing in the EU and divorcing in the UK and in particular the need for fast action. In this blog we will look at some of the considerations you should make when planning a divorce outside of the EU.

Unlike divorces in the EU, divorces that take place elsewhere do not require as much haste, although it is still recommended to be the first spouse to petition for a divorce. Different countries have different attitudes towards divorce and it could be that the country your spouse aims to start proceedings in will rule more favourably towards them than you.

Outside of the EU, the ‘first in time’ system does not apply and because of this, the courts of England and Wales will decide whether to uphold divorce proceedings if they have begun in another country (outside of the EU) or whether to hold proceedings here in the UK. In practice this means that even if your spouse has begun proceedings in a country outside of the UK, for example in India, you may still be able to have the divorce take place in the UK.

Whether or not the court decides to go ahead with a divorce in England & Wales will depend on a number of factors, such as:

  • The availability of divorce there
  • How long the process will take
  • How the courts rule on financial matters
  • How the needs of children are met
  • Whether the parties have resided there, worked there or children have lived there in the past.


If your divorce ultimately does take place outside of the EU then there is also the question of whether it will be officially recognised in England and Wales. In order to be officially recognised it must meet the following criteria:

  • Divorce was issued by means of proceedings
  • Both spouses were notified and aware of the proceedings
  • At the time, at least one spouse was resident or domiciled in the country that issued the divorce.


In some instances, a divorce may not be recognised as having taken place by proceedings. An example of this could be a divorce that is issued by a court which has no state involvement, for example by a religious group. In this scenario it can be much more difficult to have the divorce officially recognised.

Divorcing outside of the European Union can be a complicated process, and you should seek legal advice immediately if you are affected by any of the issues in this blog. You can telephone Rollingsons specialist international divorce lawyers on 0207 7611 4848 to arrange an initial consultation.

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