When some couples separate prior to divorce and one leaves the UK to live in another country, you may be looking at what is referred to as an expat divorce. An expat divorce can be expensive and quite complicated, depending in which part of the world the spouse is living. If you fall into any of the following categories then you may need to apply for an expat divorce.
- If your spouse lives somewhere other than the UK and is difficult to trace or to communicate with about where to get divorced.
- If you have also lived outside the UK for a number of years but have now returned and wish to divorce here.
- If you are from outside the UK but have set up home in England or Wales and want to divorce here.
- If you come from England or Wales originally, now live somewhere else in the world but want to use the UK courts for your divorce.
While there are some other situations where you might need a divorce, some of them are so complex that it is difficult to apply general principles. You should always consult a legal expert if you want to know whether you could apply for an expat divorce. If you do want to get a divorce in the UK then the first question you would be asked is where exactly you are currently living or domiciled,
Domicile is a legal term that looks at where you were born, where you currently reside, and what your future aims might be. Once a lawyer knows where you are domiciled they will be better able to advise you as to whether you are eligible for divorce in a UK court. Some cases are more straightforward than others and can be dealt with quite quickly; if yours is a complex situation then it may cost a significant amount in legal fees.
Some legal firms offer expat divorces for a fixed fee as this helps to prevent the costs of the case from spiralling out of control. If the divorce is uncontested then it could go through in the same manner as it would were you domiciled in the UK and you would receive notification from the court within due course. Many expats choose to use the UK legal system because it is much cheaper and less complicated than some of the legal processes in the country in which they live.
If you want to divorce then you first have to establish whether you are legally entitled to do so in the UK. You cannot get a divorce in England and Wales unless you have been married for more than a year. If you married somewhere other than the UK and both of you are domiciled in different parts of the world this would require some investigation and explanation before you could apply. The fact is that no two divorce cases are exactly the same and this applies even more when it comes to expat divorce, seek expert advice first.