Free Initial Advice: 0161 883 0460

Free Initial Advice: 0161 883 0460

Divorce: Can I issue proceedings in this country if I married abroad?

Validity of overseas marriages

You can issue divorce proceedings in England even though you have been married abroad, provided that you can prove to the court that your marriage is valid.

·  Your marriage ceremony must be recognised as a valid marriage in the country where you were married. This includes complying with the local requirements.

·  You and your spouse must have had capacity to marry in the place where you were domiciled at the date of the marriage e.g. if you were domiciled in England and one of you were under the age of 16, the marriage would not be recognised.

· Any previous marriage by you or your spouse must have been validly ended in accordance with the law of England and Wales. For example, if you have had the religious marriage followed by a civil ceremony, then a religious divorce would not bring your marriage to an end.

·  You should provide evidence of the marriage. In normal circumstances this is a marriage certificate, however, you can provide other evidence, e.g. witness statements.

·  There is a presumption that where parties have lived together as man and wife for a long period of time, they will be treated as a married couple e.g. where a husband brings his wife to England and Wales on the basis that she is his wife. Without evidence to dispute this, the court will treat them as a married couple.  However, this presumption can be rebutted if the ceremony was not recognised in the country where the marriage took place.

Disputes relating to the validity of a foreign marriage are complicated. We have the experience and expertise to advise you. Call us if you were married abroad and you want to start divorce proceedings in England and Wales.

If you would like to find out more information about the issues raised above, please contact Susan Taylor. 0161 883 0460 or email