You can issue divorce proceedings against a spouse who is not in the country if:

  • The courts here have jurisdiction to accept your petition and
  • There are appropriate grounds for divorce

International or ‘ex pat’ divorces like this sometimes raise complex issues about property division, maintenance and the care of any children. It’s therefore advisable to speak to a specialist international divorce solicitor before you begin proceedings.

Will A UK Court Accept My Petition?

Even if your spouse is abroad you will be eligible for a divorce in England and Wales (family law rules differ in Scotland and Northern Ireland) if:

  • You or your spouse is ‘domiciled’ here when you issue the divorce petition
  • You have been ‘habitually resident’ in England or Wales for at least a year before you issue proceedings
  • You are domiciled here and have been living here for at least six months before you issue the petition
  • The last place you and your spouse resided was here and you are still habitually resident here

What Is Domicile?

Domicile is a legal concept used to link an individual to a particular legal system. It is established by a number of factors, including where you were born, where you live now and where you intend to live in the future. We can advise you further on your domicile once we understand your specific circumstances.

What Is Habitual Residence?

Courts decide your ordinary place of residence having regard to all the circumstances of your case. These include how regularly you are here and the reason for your stay, whether your children go to school here and how integrated you are into social and family life in the UK.

What Are The Grounds For Divorce In England And Wales?

To divorce a spouse who is not in the country you must also establish one of the following reasons for divorce :

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • 2 year separation (by agreement)
  • 5 year separation (without agreement)

International Divorce – Serving The Petition

Sometimes it may be difficult to formally serve a divorce petition on a husband or wife who is not in the UK. But it is nevertheless essential to comply with the relevant rules on service. If a spouse does not wish to cooperate with the divorce process you may need to apply to the court for an order of deemed service in order to move the proceedings forward.

In one case Brookman obtained a court order to the effect that it was sufficient to post divorce papers through the door of a wife’s parents in America, We persuaded the court that the parents would undoubtedly pass the papers on to the wife.

International Divorce – Jurisdiction Races

Sometimes more than one country could have potential jurisdiction to decide all matters relating to your divorce. If the other country is in the EU the country where the first petition is presented will usually have jurisdiction. So if you want your divorce dealt with by the courts in England and Wales you must serve a petition before your spouse has the chance to do so elsewhere in the EU.

In non-EU countries jurisdiction will be decided on the balance of fairness and convenience. If there is a dispute over jurisdiction it is important to instruct a solicitor at an early stage to ensure your choice of court is granted the authority to decide your divorce.

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Today I had my free initial consultation with partner Henry Brookman over the phone. He had a clear understanding of my situation based on the info I provided in advance and provided me with sound advice and guidance to move forward. Many thanks.

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May 2022   Philip Hands

From my first contact with the firm I was treated courteously and promptly. I was offered a pro bono meeting shortly after making contact. Mr Brookman is clearly a very experienced professional and in our meeting he gave me some well considered and objective advice about my rather complicated situation which spans more than one jurisdiction.

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I had a free telephone consultation yesterday with Gavin Yeung. He could not have been more helpful and reassuring as he calmly and patiently worked through my situation to provide me with clarity and piece of mind at a time it was really needed and emotions are running high.

Mar 2022   'K M'

I spoke with Aziz at Brookman Solicitors on the phone for an initial consultation and he is one of the friendliest lawyers I have met. He is clearly very experienced as he patiently explained me all the concepts and processes which are quite daunting for someone in my situation, and then focused on the actual questions I wanted to ask... I would highly recommend Aziz and Brookman Solicitors.

Feb 2022   'R'

I am grateful for Henry Brookman and his team for support they provided to me during very frustrating time of divorce. They respond promptly to any request. I felt more confident after I started the process with them. Henry listened carefully to me and took quick actions on my case. I highly recommend this team of real professionals even for non-UK citizens.

Feb 2022   Sezim Beksultanova

I had online consultation with the partner Henry Brookman today. I was very happy with the service. I found him to be very insightful, knowledgeable and provided sound advice, as well as being kind and patient. It was a very comfortable discussion and he sent an email detailing our discussion very quickly discussing in our meeting in depth. I am amazed by the service we got just from a free consultation. I would highly recommend these solicitors!

Jan 2022   Shirley Christopher

We spoke at length and at no point felt like he was rushing us and we felt very comfortable. After our discussion we were also quickly sent an email detailing everything we were discussing in our meeting in depth. I am amazed by the service we got just from a free consultation. I would highly recommend these solicitors!

Dec 2021   Tina

I was fortunate to spend an hour running through a few questions with Natasha Slabas. She was quick to grasp the points raised and proposed a sensible way forward. Would recommend

Dec 2021   Nick Powell

I cannot praise the professionalism and courtesy too highly. The advice given in a very complex divorce matter, was clear, concise, enlightening and inspiring.

Nov 2021   Mary Barn

I contacted Henry Brookman because of the complex international aspect of my divorce and I’m very glad I did... Henry took his time explaining all the pro’s and contra’s... I now have a much clearer view over the situation and feel more confident going forward. I’m very grateful for the excellent advice I’ve received and not feeling rushed during the meeting.

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