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International divorce

International divorce

SKU: 3.17
  • Advice

    International divorce is when you apply for a divorce in a country different from where you live or your permanent home. This might happen because you live abroad for work, or because you and your ex-spouse end up living in different countries because you have different nationalities. 


    Countries where you can get divorced in:

    You can only get divorced in another country if your marriage is legally recognised in the country where you want to apply for a divorce.


    To get divorced in another country

    You must demonstrate that you or your ex-spouse has a connection to it. A court only has the right and legal power to deal with your case if you can show this connection. The law calls this 'jurisdiction'. Different countries worldwide have different rules to work out if their courts have the legal power to deal with a case when other countries may be involved. We strongly suggest that you appoint a solicitor who is an expert in divorce law in the country where you are thinking about getting a divorce.



    To be a national means you have the official right to be a member of a state. You can acquire nationality by birth, the nationality of your parents, adoption, or marriage. The rules vary from country to country. So, for example, if you were born in France and both your parents were born in France, you will be a French national.


    Habitual Residence

    'Habitual residence' means that you live somewhere regularly. To prove habitual residence, you have to show that you are settled in the country or planning to stay there for a while, even if it is not your permanent home. How to show you are a habitual resident varies from country to country.

    For example, in England and Wales, the kind of factors that are often taken into account when deciding if you can show habitual residence include:

    • Where you usually or live, work, study, or enjoy your leisure time;
    • If any move out of a country is only temporary;
    • Where you have property, even if rented out, and where you keep your furniture;
    • Where your car is registered;
    • Your mailing address;
    • Where you are registered with a doctor, dentist; 
    • Where your mobile phone is registered;
    • Where your financial arrangements are based, for example, your bank accounts, your tax status, where you pay National Insurance (NI) contributions; and
    • Your nationality.

    These factors can help to build a stronger case for divorcing in another country. However, regardless of them, you will need to seek legal advice and support from an expert or based in the country's divorce law that you wish to separate in. 



    Different countries have different rules about what being domiciled means. You will need to pursue legal support and advice if you wish to employ the domicile rule to prove a connection to the country you want to divorce in. 

    In England and Wales, ' domicile' is where your permanent home is. This doesn't have to be a permanent address. For example, you can live abroad for work but not plan to stay in that country permanently, and as such, your birth country remains where you are 'domiciled'. You will be able to get a divorce in a country if it is your permanent home. It can be the country you were born in or a country you have moved to if you have made it your permanent home.

    You can only have one domicile at a time: domicile of origin, domicile of dependency or a domicile of choice.


    Domicile of origin

    For most people, their domicile of origin will be the country they were born in.


    Domicile of dependency 

    This is the domicile that you acquire from another person when you are dependent on them. For example, from your parent when you are under 16 years old.


    Domicile of choice 

    This happens when you live in a different country from your domicile of origin and intend to make that new country your home permanently.


    Deciding which country to be divorced in:

    The law and divorce vary from country to country in factors such as:

    • The types of financial orders the court is likely to make in your case.
    • The costs involved.
    • The length of time it takes to get divorced and settle finances and arrangements for your children (if you have any).
    • How you sort out arrangements for your children,
    • How easy it is to enforce orders made by the court in that country or another country.

    You may find that getting divorced in one country will financially benefit you more than getting divorced somewhere else. Some countries court systems, such as those in the middle east favour men rights over women in the way their court deals with divorce cases. It may be more expensive or take a lot longer to get divorced in one country than in another. It is therefore essential to figure out which countries provide the best outcomes for your divorce. 


    You also need to consider if it is practical for you to get a divorce in a different country. Divorce is often a very stressful and upsetting process. It is, therefore, crucial to consider the length of divorce proceedings in the country that you are considering applying for a divorce in, including the costs of appointing overseas solicitors.


    How we can help

    The process of getting a divorce is a difficult period for all involved, Lestons can assist clients in various ways and seek to resolve the myriad of issues that accompany a divorce. If both sides are based in the UK, then we would have two teams, (one legal and one third-party independent financial advisors) who will work together to put forward workable solutions which we hope both sides can agree on. We can act for both parties in the divorce, it would simply mean that each side has its own team, taking instruction from their respective client.


    If one side is outside the UK then we would simply represent the one who is domiciled in the UK. Lestons can assign specialists and independent staff to create a mutually agreeable settlement, they will typically meet both sides (usually over a video link) for an impartial discussion to determine points of common ground, then examine specific points as required, after this, we can create a report to the lodge to the court.


    In regard to any required third-party advisors please note we make no commission from these referrals. To gain our assistance you need to open a case, this is done by taking advantage of our free consultation service, activated by the link at the top of the page, should you wish to start a case the caseworker will send you the suitable payment link.


    Please note your caseworker can only give generic advice, their role is to prepare your details for handling by our appointed experts and to act as your point of contact, they will also issue you with your Password and PIN, these will be needed to log onto your client dashboard. From your dashboard you will be able to manage and view every aspect of your case, upload documents, images, files etc.

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