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Is it possible to divorce when spouse lives in another country?

As a result of the European Regulation 2201/2003 it is possible to know exactly when and under what circumstances it is possible to divorce when a spouse lives in another country.

Many important aspects of a divorce decree can depend on the location of the spouses, for example, the location of the initial divorce application can determine which legal jurisdiction applies in international divorce cases. This in turn can affect greatly the divorce settlement that is reached: English divorce law can be quite different to Spanish law with regard to maintenance or alimony provision.

It is therefore important to address at the outset the issue of which country has jurisdiction to process a divorce application involving spouses of different nationalities or who are resident in different countries.

Which legal jurisdiction applies?

European Regulation 2201/2003 sets out the rules that determine which country has jurisdiction to hear and determine a divorce case which is any country where:

  • the spouses are habitually resident, or
  • the spouses were last habitually resident, and one still resides there, or
  • the respondent is habitually resident, or
  • in the event of a joint application, either of the spouses is habitually resident, or
  • the applicant is habitually resident if he or she resided there for at least a year immediately before the application was made, or
  • the applicant is habitually resident if he or she resided there for at least six months immediately before the application was made and is either a national of the Member State in question or, in the case of the UK and Ireland, has his or her “domicile” there, or
  • Both spouses are domiciled

So, these rules effectively set-out those situations in which it is possible to divorce when a spouse lives in another country and under which circumstances this can be permitted. Also noteworthy is the fact that a divorce petition may be considered to be filed correctly in more than one jurisdiction. Where a petition for divorce is petitioned in more than one country then the ‘first-past-the-post’ principle applies which has of course permitted the practice of “forum shopping” to flourish. Forum shopping is where a spouse will seek to file for divorce in the jurisdiction that offers them more advantageous laws than their partner.

If your spouse leaves Spain to live elsewhere

If you have married in Spain, and you separate from your spouse who then leaves Spain, to live in another country, you may still petition the Courts in Spain for a divorce. Whether or not the spouse responds to the court notification – or indeed if it is not possible to locate the spouse, the Court may still proceed with and emit the decree of divorce.

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Divorce

Available in the following locations: Alicante, Arrecife, Barcelona, Benidorm, Cadiz, Castellon, El Campello, Estepona, Fuengirola, Gandia, Girona, Granada, Jaen, L`Eliana, La Manga del Mar Menor, Las Palmas, Los Alcázares, Los Cristianos, Madrid, Maspalomas, Mazarron, Murcia, Nerja, Orihuela Costa, Oviedo, Palma de Mallorca, Puerto del Rosario, Puzol, Seville, Torrevieja, Valencia, Velez Malaga, Vera, Vigo.

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1Who is this Service for?

For anyone who wishes to initiate, or who needs to respond to, divorce proceedings or other family law proceedings including separation and annulment.

2What does this service consist of?

  • Initial discussion with a specialist lawyer to understand the current position and options for next steps
  • If initiating divorce proceedings, possibility to refer case to an Advocate Abroad solicitor registered by the Law Societies in the UK to provide consultation on whether divorce proceedings may take place in the UK
  • If proceedings in UK not possible or desired, filing of the divorce petition to the local Courts or formal legal response if responding to a petition for divorce in the local Courts
  • Certificate of English law arranged if applying English-law to the foreign divorce proceedings
  • Negotiation of all terms of the divorce settlement
  • Drafting/Review of the divorce agreement
  • Division and distribution of Matrimonial Assets
Support services

3Free Support Services Included

When combined with the free and innovative Advocate Abroad support services you can be sure that you are obtaining completely transparent legal services from registered and regulated English-speaking lawyers abroad.These support services include:

  • Verification of the regulatory status of your professional.
  • Fees as recommended by the Local Professional Body
  • Fees specified in advance and legally guaranteed.
  • Service levels agreed in advance and guaranteed.
  • All professionals must hold professional indemnity insurance.
  • Professionals' proficiency in English monitored.
  • Continuous quality controls and reviews.

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