International Family Law

What is international divorce?

International divorce may affect you if you or your spouse intend to start divorce proceedings and one or more of the following applies:

  • You were married abroad;
  • Either one of you were born abroad;
  • Either or both of you live abroad (‘Expats’) in another EU Country or non-member state such as the United Arabic Emirates;
  • You have foreign assets which need to be dealt with on divorce including overseas properties;

International divorce can be complex as significantly different outcomes can be achieved depending on the Country where the divorce proceedings are issued and/or financial matters are resolved. It is important to understand which Country is most advantageous for you (‘forum shopping’).

Can I get divorced in England?

You can apply to issue divorce proceedings in England and Wales if one of the following criteria applies:

  • when you begin divorce proceedings, both you and your spouse are habitually resident in England or Wales; 
  • both you and your spouse’s last habitual residence was England or Wales and one of you still lives there when divorce proceedings begin;
  • at the time the divorce proceedings begin, the respondent to the divorce is habitually resident in Wales or England;
  • for 12 months prior to the start of divorce proceedings, the petitioner applying for the divorce has been habitually resident in Wales or England; 
  • for six months prior to the start of divorce proceedings, the petitioner has been habitually resident in England or Wales, and is also domiciled there;
  • you and your spouse are domiciled in England or Wales when divorce proceedings begin;
  • no other court of a “contracting state” to the European Convention (‘Brussels IIA’) has jurisdiction, and either you or your spouse is domiciled in England or Wales when divorce proceedings begin.

What is Domicile?

Everyone has a domicile of origin (where they were born), but it is possible to change this through choice so that a Country which you consider to be your home becomes your domicile of choice.

What is Habitual Residence?

This is the place where you live on a voluntary basis with an intention to live there for a significant period of time.  

What other situations involve international family law?

International family law may also affect you in circumstances where:-

What should I do next?

If your situation involves some element of international family law it is vital that you seek specialist advice from a family solicitor who has experience in dealing with international family cases so as to ensure that they work with you to achieve the best outcome for you. 

Speed can be crucial in international family law cases. However it is essential that you receive expert advice before considering your options such as Mediation.

How can we help?

At Consilia Legal, our family law specialists have a wealth of knowledge and experience dealing with international elements of family law. Contact us on 0113 322 9222  for an initial free telephone consultation or to find out more about our tailored fixed fee packages for international divorce cases. If you would prefer to email then please contact us as

Read our recent Family Law blogs:

How do I sort finances out on divorce?

What is a Parenting Plan?

Pre-nuptial agreements: protecting your future

New Year, Fresh Start...

No fault divorce - risky concept or long overdue?

Forget "Divorce D-Day" lets call January "Mediation Month"

The Myth of the Common Law Marriage

The Importance of Pensions on Divorce


Contact Laura

Text browser and screen reader users: The subject field must be blank for the contact form submission to succeed