Are you a British national living abroad who would like to commence divorce proceedings? This blog posts illustrates the current requirements for petitioning for a divorce in the UK.
Am I eligible to Petition for Divorce in the UK?
To get a divorce in the UK, you need to establish whether you have jurisdiction to do so. The law that governs this is known as Brussels II. As a result of Brexit, there have been amendments to this regulation and the up-to-date grounds for jurisdiction are as follows:
a. Both you and your spouse are habitually resident in England and Wales
b. Both you and your spouse were last habitually resident in England and Wales and either of you continues to reside here.
c. Your spouse (the respondent) is habitually resident in England and Wales
d. You are habitually resident in England and Wales and have resided here for at least one year immediately before the application was made
e. You are domiciled and habitually resident in England and Wales and have resided here for at least six months immediately before the application was made
f. Both you and your spouse are domiciled in England and Wales; or
g. Either you or your spouse are domiciled in England and Wales.
What is Habitual Residence?
There is no precise definition of this term, the courts take a view of all the facts of your case when making a decision.
The President of the Family Court Sir James Munby provided a useful analogy of this, it is where the individuals ‘centre of gravity’ is. Certain factors help to prove this such as:
- Length of time spent in the UK
- How regularly you are in the UK
- Reasons for being in the UK
- Whether children attend school in the UK
- Whether you speak the language
- Extent of your integration into the country
- Do you pay tax in the UK
- Do you own property in the UK
What is Domicile?
There are two forms of Domicile, Domicile of Origin and Domicile of Choice.
Domicile of origin is the country in which your parents were domiciled when you are born.
This can be changed however, by asserting your domicile of choice. To do this, you must be able to show that you want to be governed by the legal system of the country of your domicile of choice until you die.
Am I able to get a Divorce in the UK?
“It is important to note that if your spouse has commenced proceedings in another jurisdiction, you cannot start proceedings in the UK.
To be able to pursue a divorce in the UK, you must be able to meet the criteria set out above, this includes satisfying the definition of domicile and habitual residence where necessary.” Amelia Fernley, Family Law Paralegal, Sinclair Law.
If you would like further advice on whether you are eligible to obtain a UK Divorce, please get in touch.
Our friendly and skilled team of family lawyers are here to provide you with expert legal advice. We are committed to providing outstanding service and achieving the best possible outcome for our clients.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced family solicitors, please call 01625 526 222 or contact us using our web form.