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International Divorce Solicitors

Many couples who live in England and Wales are now choosing to get married in another country. Similarly, many couples who move to England and Wales have already been married in the country they are leaving. When these couples separate the international divorce element of the marriage has to be considered before divorce proceedings start.

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

In most cases you will be able to apply for a divorce in the courts of England and Wales even if the marriage took place abroad. 

The marriage has to be recognised legally in England and Wales for divorce proceedings to apply. A marriage will be legally recognised if the parties to the marriage had the capacity to understand the marriage was taking place, at the time it took place and that the marriage complied with the required formalities of that country thus making it legally recognised in that country. As long as those conditions are met, then the marriage is recognised in England and Wales.

A divorce can then take place if the courts of England and Wales have what is called jurisdiction. This can be established where:-

  1. both parties to the marriage are habitually resident in England and Wales; or
  2. both parties were last habitually resident in England and Wales and one of them still resides there: or
  3. the Respondent is habitually resident in England and Wales; or
  4. the Petitioner is habitually resident in England and Wales and has lived there for a at least a year immediately before the petition is filed; or
  5. the Petitioner is domiciled in England and Wales and has been residing in England and Wales for at least 6 months immediately before the petition is filed; or
  6. Both parties are domiciled in England and Wales; or
  7. if none of the above apply and no court of another EU State has jurisdiction, either of the parties is domiciled in England and Wales on the date when the proceedings are begun.

If one of the above applies and the marriage is recognised, then proceedings can be started in the courts of England and Wales.

One thing to remember is that to start divorce proceedings in England and Wales, the marriage certificate is required by the court. It is useful to have the marriage certificate from the outset or at least know how to obtain a certified copy of it if the original is lost, if it is you that intends to start the divorce. If the marriage certificate is not in English it will need to be translated into English for the purpose of divorce proceedings. Both the original and the English translation will be required by the court.

Where should I start proceedings if I have a choice?

It is always important to consider whether starting divorce proceedings in England and Wales is the best option for you. 

If you were born, raised and lived in another country and moved to England or Wales temporarily, even if you can apply under the jurisdiction criteria, you should consider seeking advice in both countries before starting proceedings. Every country has different laws and you may have better protection in one country than the other especially in relation to any financial settlement that has to be considered. If you wish to do this it is important to make sure your ex does not realise and start proceedings before you. Once started it may be difficult to persuade a court in a different country that they should have jurisdiction over the original court.

Every case is fact specific and this can be a very complex area of law. We would consider the merits of your case and advise you about the best way to proceed to achieve the best possible outcome.

How to make contact

Cartwright King have offices across the UK. For advice and representation please call 0808 168 5550 or email us on

Cartwright King has offices in BirminghamBedfordDerbyLeedsLeicesterLondon TempleManchesterMiddlesbroughNorthamptonNottingham and Sheffield.

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