Divorce & Family

Foreign marriages and foreign divorces

When a couple separate, there is often a great deal of confusion about the relevance or otherwise of a marriage which took place abroad.  A typical question would be: “If I got married in Mauritius, can I get divorced in England or do I have to get divorced in Mauritius?”

Questions are also asked about the need to register an overseas marriage in England if the couple live here.

Essentially, if the marriage is valid where it took place then it will be recognised under English law and, whilst it may be possible to also get divorced in that country, you can get divorced here as long as you are habitually resident or domiciled here.

After getting married abroad, some couples go on to have a second ‘marriage’ ceremony in England for the benefit of friends and family (or for religious reasons) and the status of this subsequent ‘marriage’ can cause confusion.

Is this second ceremony a valid marriage under English law?

Usually not, but how you approach it is important because if your lawyer takes the wrong legal steps on separation it may affect your ability to bring or prevent a financial claim.

The English Courts may also recognise foreign divorces (whether in relation to a foreign marriage or an English marriage).  Again, the extent to which further proceedings are required here will depend on whether you wish to bring or avoid a financial claim.