WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS TO DIVORCE AND FINANICAL RELIEF IN ENGLAND AND WALES, IF I LIVE ABROAD OR HAVE ALREADY GOT DIVORCED ABROAD?
WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS TO DIVORCE AND FINANICAL RELIEF IN ENGLAND AND WALES, IF I LIVE ABROAD OR HAVE ALREADY GOT DIVORCED ABROAD?
Daniel Weintroub

14 August 2023

Divorce is something no one wants to happen to them. When this journey is complicated by living abroad or separated from a spouse, questions about jurisdiction and fairness often arise. At Phillips Law, we understand these complexities and are here to provide clarity and guidance on your options.

Can I Get Divorced in England and Wales?

One common misconception is that you must divorce in the country where you or your spouse currently reside. However, under the Domicile and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1973, there are specific criteria that allow you to apply for divorce in England and Wales:

  1. Domicile and Habits: You can apply if you are domiciled and habitually resident in England and Wales and have lived here for at least six months before applying.
  2. Residency Rule: If you are habitually resident in England and Wales and have resided here for at least one year before applying, you are eligible.
  3. Joint Application: In joint applications, if either party is habitually resident in England and Wales, a divorce can be pursued here.
  4. Spouse’s Residency: If your spouse is habitually resident in England and Wales, you can initiate divorce proceedings.
  5. Shared Domicile: If either party is domiciled in England and Wales, divorce can be sought in these jurisdictions.

 

Understanding Domicile and Habitual Residence

Habitual Residence: Your habitual residence is where your life is predominantly based. This involves the intention to remain there for the foreseeable future, evidenced by property ownership or employment.

Domicile: Your domicile is typically the place of your birth and where you have familial ties. If your parents were married when you were born, your domicile follows your father’s. If not, it’s your mother’s. Sometimes, domicile can change during your lifetime, a point to be clarified before proceedings.

Assistance from English Courts

English courts can aid you even if you’re living abroad or have returned to the jurisdiction. They can intervene if you’ve divorced overseas but believe you’ve been unfairly treated regarding financial settlement. The Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 (MFPA 1984) permits you to seek financial claims following an overseas divorce.

Claiming Financial Relief After Overseas Divorce

Under Part III of the MFPA 1984, you can claim financial relief if:

  1. Valid Marriage: A valid marriage recognised in English law exists.
  2. Overseas Dissolution: The marriage has been dissolved, annulled, or legally separated overseas.
  3. Recognition in England: The divorce, annulment, or legal separation is recognised as valid in England and Wales.

For a successful claim, you must meet specific criteria:

  1. Domicile or Residence: Either party was domiciled or habitually resident in England and Wales at the time of application or at the time the overseas divorce took effect.
  2. Beneficial Interest: Either party had a beneficial interest in an English or Welsh dwelling-house that was a matrimonial home at some point during the marriage.

Empowering Orders by the English Court

The English court has the authority to issue orders akin to those in an English divorce. This encompasses property transfer or sale, lump sums, maintenance for spouse or children, and pension sharing.

At Phillips Law, wee are experts in family law matters. Our extensive experience aids separating parties returning to the UK or those who’ve divorced abroad and now require assistance from the English Court.

For a thorough understanding of your situation, contact our family team at 01256 460830 or via email at [email protected]. We’re here to guide you through this intricate journey.

Have more questions?
Our expert solicitors are here to take the worry off your hands.
Please call us or email and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
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