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How to prepare for divorce when married abroad?

It can be tricky if you are married abroad and contemplating divorce. As worldwide travel has become increasingly accessible over the past few decades, more and more people are choosing to leave the rain clouds of Great Britain behind and head abroad in search of a sunnier venue for their wedding.  However, when things don’t go plan that is when you may need expert advice.

Angelina and Brad chose to get married in their beautiful Château in France, just over two years ago. With the rumour mill filled with stories of their alleged divorce, they may be wondering how getting married abroad could impact on them if they split.

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If you were married abroad and are now thinking about getting a divorce, there are a few things you should consider.


1. Is your marriage valid?

Before you start filing for divorce, you need to make sure that your marriage is actually valid. The rule of thumb is that if your marriage is valid in the country you got married in, it will be valid in England and Wales. So, if like Angelina and Brad, you got married in France, your marriage would be valid in England and Wales as long as it was legally valid in France.

If there’s some confusion over whether or not your marriage is valid, you may have to get a Declaration of Marital Status.


2. Where is your marriage certificate?

In order to file for divorce in England and Wales, you’ll need to have your marriage certificate. If this is not in English, then you would need to have it translated.

If you need to file for divorce straight away and can’t wait for the certificate to be translated, then you can still file for divorce as long as you file your marriage certificate before the decree nisi is pronounced.


3. Why would I need to file for divorce urgently?

Divorce laws and practices vary greatly across the world. The outcome of your divorce settlement could look very different depending on which country your divorce is processed in. Because of this, some people may choose to file for divorce in a country that has laws that are more beneficial to them.

If you think there may be an international element to your divorce, you must get legal advice from a specialist solicitor as soon as possible. Filing for your divorce in England or Wales before your spouse files elsewhere could make a very big difference to your final settlement. Even if you can’t find your marriage certificate, it is important to get legal advice from a solicitor experienced in international divorce as soon as possible.


4. What can I do if I’ve lost my marriage certificate?

If you’ve searched everywhere, including with the authorities in the country where your marriage took place, and you still can’t find your marriage certificate, then it is possible to apply to divorce without it. This is very rare and you would need to speak to a specialist solicitor if this applies to you.

If you married in a foreign country and are thinking of getting a divorce, it can be useful to speak to a specialist solicitor as soon as possible in the process – maybe before telling your spouse your intentions – so you can fully understand what your options are.


Contact us to see how we can help you with your divorce

For more information on your options call our team on 0845 862 5001 or email

We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in London WC2N 4JF and Manchester M2 4PD. Please contact us for more details.

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14th September 2016

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