Divorcing When Your Spouse Doesn’t Live in England: Legal Requirements, Child Arrangements and Division of Assets

Going through a divorce when one person lives abroad? Here’s what you need to know. Call our team to find out your options. 

Apr 28, 2023 | Blogs, Divorce, Women&Divorce


Divorcing in England & Wales if your spouse lives abroad can be challenging, but understanding the legal requirements, child arrangements, and asset division can make the process smoother.


Legal Requirements for Filing for Divorce in England

When divorcing in England with one person living abroad, it’s important to understand the legal requirements and check if you can apply.   The law states you can get divorced in England or Wales if all of the following are true:

  • you’ve been married for over a year
  • your relationship has permanently broken down
  • your marriage is legally recognised in the UK (if you’ve had a nikah only ceremony in England, make sure you check that it’s a legally valid)

You will also need to show that you or your spouse lives in England and Wales, or has been habitually resident in England and Wales for at least one year prior to filing for divorce. If neither of these apply, you may need to seek legal advice in the country where your spouse is living.

If one of you lives in England and Wales and meets the habitual residence requirement, you can file for divorce in England and Wales. However, it’s important to note that there may be additional legal and practical considerations to take into account if either you or your spouse lives overseas, such as jurisdictional issues, service of documents, and enforcing any court orders that may be made. It’s always a good idea to seek the advice of a family law solicitor if you are considering filing for divorce and one party lives overseas.

    Child Arrangements in International Divorce

    Child arrangements can be challenging in international divorce cases. If you have children and one person doesn’t live in England, you’ll need to consider issues such as where the children will live, how often they’ll see the non-resident parent, and how any travel arrangements will be handled.  It’s important to speak with a family lawyer who has experience in international child arrangements to ensure that your children’s best interests are taken into account.

    Division of Assets in International Divorce

    Dividing assets in international divorce cases can also be complicated. You or your spouse may have property, business assets, savings or pensions outside of England. Different countries have different laws regarding the division of assets, and it’s important to seek legal advice to ensure that your rights are protected. It’s also important to be aware of any tax implications of dividing assets in different countries. 

    Speak to our team if you want to better understand your options. Our one-hour strategy session is designed to provide you with detailed advice and a plan of action.

      What To Do Next?

      We hope you found this post helpful. Please note it does not replace legal advice. Contact our team to find out your options and costs. Thank you for reading. 

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