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Can you get divorced in England?

Posted on Monday, 2nd September 2013 by

Photo Credit: db Photography | Demi-Brooke via Compfight cc

Modern laws in the European Union make it easy for members of other nations states to live in the UK, this together with marrying abroad becoming more common leads to many separating couples unsure which countries court they need to file for divorce in.


It does not matter which country you get married in, so long as both you and your husband habitually reside in England, i.e live in England and consider it to be your permanent home you can divorce in England.


If you did marry abroad and your marriage certificate is not in English you will have to get this translator by a court approved translator before you can file your divorce petition. This will likely be at a small additional cost.


You may be wondering which country has jurisdiction if you live in England and your spouse lives elsewhere. So long as you reside in England and you have done so for the previous 12 months immediately preceding the petition you may divorce in England. It may not be as simple as this though. The divorce procedure in England requires that in every case the Respondent (the spouse receiving the petition) be aware of the divorce proceedings, this is usually shown by the Respondent returning a form called the Acknowledgment of Service. Serving the divorce petition upon a spouse who lives in another country may not be problematic as you do not require the courts permission to serve a divorce petition outside of this country (as you do with many other court documents), this means the petition can simply be posted to the Respondent in another country. The problem comes if the Respondent refuses to return the Acknowledgment of Service.


Ordinarily if the Respondent refuses to return the Acknowledgment a process server or court bailiff is simply employed to serve the Respondent in person. The bailiff will then complete a certificate of service and the proceedings can continue. However, if you wish to serve a Respondent personally in a foreign country you must go through the Foreign Process Section. They will process your documents and send them to the authorities in the relevant country. The authorities will then serve the documents upon the Respondent, and provide proof of service to the Foreign Process Section who will in turn send the same to you. However this process will cost at least an additional £130.00 and will likely delay the proceedings 6-9 months.  This must be attempted, and if the relevant authorities fail to serve the papers upon the Respondent you must then apply to the Judge to dispense with service (which the Judge will only do if you can show you have tried every possible avenue to serve the Respondent).


In summary if you are an English national or you have lived in England for over 12 months The courts of England and Wales will have jurisdiction to deal with your divorce.

Faye Remnant is part of our Family Law team based in Loughborough; our Solicitors in Loughborough are experts in their fields and dedicated to quality client care. If you would like to find out more about our solicitors in Loughborough please contact us.

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The information provided in all of our blogs reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic. The blogs do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Please see our website terms and conditions for full details of our disclaimer. If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our lawyers who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.

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