Is My Overseas Divorce Valid In England?

An overseas divorce is one which has been obtained by means of judicial or other proceedings, or other than by means of proceedings, in any country outside the UK and which is effective under the laws of that country.

Validity of an overseas divorce – legislation

Under the Family Law Act 1986 an overseas divorce obtained by means of judicial or other proceedings is recognised in the UK, only if:

  • It is effective under the law of the country in which it was obtained; and
  • At the relevant date (that is, the date on which proceedings were begun), either party was either habitually resident or domiciled in that country or was a national of that country.

The term ‘judicial or other proceedings’ requires that there should have been some formal proceedings, either before a Court or some other formal body recognised by the state for that purpose (for example, in Pakistan the Union Council). It is an important aspect that the judicial or other body should be impartial as to the outcome of the proceedings.

An overseas divorce obtained otherwise than by means of proceedings is recognised in the UK if:

  • It is effective under the law of the country in which it was obtained; and
  • At the relevant date (that is, the date on which the divorce was obtained), both parties were domiciled in that country or one was domiciled there and the other was domiciled in a country which recognised the divorce; and
  • Neither party had been habitually resident in the UK throughout the period of one year immediately preceding that date.

The term ‘otherwise than by means of proceedings’ covers, for example, a meeting of family members convened to dissolve a West African customary marriage or to hear the pronouncement of talaq.

Comment

Recognition of an overseas divorce is important as it can affect your ability to remarry and cause issues in relation to Wills and inheritance, welfare benefits, marital status, and the financial remedies available to the parties involved.

Obtaining recognition of your foreign divorce in the UK can be extremely complex and we strongly advise anyone who is unsure to contact a legal professional in the UK to ensure their overseas divorce is valid and there could be no repercussions down the line.

Validity Of An Overseas DivorceHow Nelsons can help

Layla Babadi is a specialist Family Law Solicitor at Nelsons.

If you need advice on any foreign divorce related matter or have any other family law related queries, please contact Layla and she will be happy to discuss your circumstances in more detail and give you more information about the services that Nelsons’ Family Law team can provide.

Layla can be contacted on 0800 024 1976 or contact us via our online form.