Fortunately, this situation is nowhere near as complicated as it may at first appear – and if you are married your foreign-born husband or wife in the jurisdiction of England and Wales, then it is very simple indeed. English law applies to anyone living in England, regardless of where they born. So, if your marriage took place in this country, then English divorce law also applies.
More commonly, however, we receive questions from people who are concerned about divorce in the UK because their marriage took place abroad. Do they need to travel back to that country in order to end the marriage? They may not wish to do so if the breakup has been acrimonious or awkward – or they may not be able to do so at all, due to work, personal commitments or other pressing demands on their time.
Ending foreign marriages
The good news is that travelling back to the original country is not actually necessary. English marital law does make provision for marriages conducted abroad. To apply for a divorce within the jurisdiction of England and Wales, you only have to be able to demonstrate that your marriage was legally valid within the other country. If it was not – because, for example, it was never properly registered or it took place in an unauthorised venue – then you will not be able to divorce. This is for one very simple reason: as far as English law is concerned, no marriage ever took place.
If you can prove the marriage was legally valid, you will also need a copy of your marriage certificate, with an accompanying written translation if the certificate is not written in the English language. This translation must be legally certified and then submitted with your initial petition for divorce.
An expert family will be able to advise on this situation, and help you to avoid delays but submitting a petition that complies with all the regulations.