Clients often ask us this question ahead of issuing divorce proceedings. The straightforward answer is no. Your marriage venue does not dictate jurisdiction when it comes to your divorce. What matters is the links you and your spouse have with the country in which you wish to divorce.
Many of us choose to hold our weddings in exotic locations around the world, places where we have no legal status or connection. It would be unreasonable to insist that we got divorced there as well.
In addition it’s not uncommon for couples to move from country to country during their marriage, effectively residing in several places for different periods. Again it would seem arbitrary to force couples to divorce in the place they married.
What Countries Can I Get Divorced In?
Often the courts of more than one country have jurisdiction to decide the terms of your divorce. If this is the case it is important to remember the country you or your spouse choose to divorce in could have a significant bearing on the outcome of your case. Some countries, including England and Wales are more generous to financially weaker parties. Decisions on child residence might also differ significantly depending on which country hears proceedings.
We explain the rules in detail here for issuing divorce proceedings in the EU, including England and Wales. Under the criteria the ability of a particular EU country to hear divorce proceedings depends largely on the question of the residence of you and/or your spouse.
If you are seeking a divorce in a non-EU country you will need to be able to rely on the rules of jurisdiction for the relevant country.
What Is Forum Shopping?
If more than one country has jurisdiction you may wish to choose (‘forum shop’) the country where the courts are more likely to favour individuals in your position. The country in which proceedings are first issued will usually have precedence to hear the case over any other country with jurisdiction. It is often necessary therefore to act with extreme urgency if you think your spouse may attempt to issue proceedings in another country before you.