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If you are considering divorce and there are international aspects involved, it will be necessary to consider carefully where divorce proceedings should be issued.

Divorce proceedings can only be issued in England and Wales if you have the jurisdiction to do so. This means that it is not possible, for example, to issue proceedings here if you or your spouse do not and have never lived here. Whether you are able to issue proceedings for divorce depends on the legal concepts of ‘habitual residence’ and ‘domicile.

The concepts of habitual residence and domicile can be complex and it is important to obtain specialist legal advice if you are in any doubt as to whether you are able to issue proceedings for divorce in England or Wales. However, in outline terms, you should be able to issue divorce proceedings:

  • If you and your spouse are both living in England and Wales
  • If you have moved abroad but your spouse remains living in England and Wales
  • If you have been living in England and Wales for six months and are also domiciled here
  • If you are not also domiciled here, you will have had to live here for at least a year
  • If either you or your spouse are domiciled in England and Wales. This means that, even if you are currently living abroad but you view your permanent home as in England and Wales and were born here, proceedings can be issued here.

Does it matter in which country divorce proceedings are issued?

You may be able to issue proceedings for divorce in England/Wales or in another country. Where divorce proceedings are issued will then likely govern how financial issues are to be resolved. Different countries have different methods of resolving finances on divorce and you may end up with very different outcomes depending on where proceedings are issued. It is therefore very important that you get specialist legal advice before deciding where to issue divorce proceedings if there is a possible choice in this respect. We are able to assist you in making this decision.