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.

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54 Lawyers Offering Divorce Services in Spain

Testimonials for our Divorce service
  • Marion Brennan
    Marion Brennan, Alicante

    At every stage of our family case, Jose Antonio has been knowledgeable and thorough, very professional while remaining kind and supportive and ensured that we took the right steps for a positive outcome.


    I would highly recommend Jose Antonio for legal representation.


    Jun 29, 2019
  • Amir
    Amir, Lisbon

    Our lawyer Simone is a very nice person who gave us personal attention like a family.


    Start to finish she provided the best service. Very happy with the job done, thx a lot!


    May 31, 2019
  • Robert Cunningham
    Robert Cunningham, Mallorca

    Rosa was absolutely first class. She made a very difficult time in our lives a lot easier and for that I could not be more grateful. Thank you Rosa


    May 20, 2019
  • Keisha
    Keisha, Valencia

    Inmaculada was professional and also demonstrated compassion and understanding during this difficult period in my life.


    Apr 03, 2019
  • Wayne
    Wayne, Valencia

    Francisca was very informative and helpful. She handled my divorce professionally and made it easy for me throughout the process.


    Highly recommend and reasonable fees. Thank you, Francisca!


    Mar 16, 2019
  • Wayne Cherry
    Wayne Cherry, London, England

    Francisca was very informative and attentive to all of my inquiries and concerns. I would definitely be going back to her if needing her services again and would recommend her brilliant services.


    Mar 09, 2019
  • Candy
    Candy, Cadiz

    Francisco was very responsive, supportive and understanding.


    Unfortunately, I had to use another lawyer who has helped me in another case.


    Feb 11, 2019
  • Colin Wilson
    Colin Wilson, Australia

    Overall it was great. Rosa always answered all questions asked and provided clear, concise and well explained answers.


    When there was a delay in responding she did offer an apology which was appreciated. Rosa always instilled a sense of confidence that she knew exactly what was going on, what I was asking, and what the applicable law was.


    When not a Spanish local and dealing with her remotely, this provided great comfort in a sensitive matter.


    Oct 30, 2018
  • Julie Smith
    Julie Smith, Torrellano

    I can't compliment my solicitor enough.


    From our initial meeting right through to my ultimate divorce (with no unpleasant surprises the entire duration of the entire process), he immediately responded to my many enquiries, always had mine and my daughter's best interests at the forefront of any considerations and was well worth every penny of his extremely reasonable fee.


    Excellent value for money, totally approachable and very professional and understanding. I highly recommend him and will continue to retain his services for other matters in the future.


    Apr 20, 2018
  • Robert Davies
    Robert Davies, Mallorca

    Very supportive and clear on producing a suitable divorce settlement.


    Efficient, understanding and professional.


    Mar 12, 2018
  • D slocombe
    D slocombe, Spain

    Jose is very friendly and understanding.


    I am very satisfied and I would you use the same lawyer again in the future.


    May 19, 2017
  • Louise Kirby
    Louise Kirby, Alicante

    Jose Antonio is a very dedicated lawyer. He ensures he has a deep understanding of the case and provides excellent advise on a range of issues.


    He has often replied to queries out of hours and works hard to provide the best outcome for his clients.


    His service is outstanding and I would highly recommend him.


    Feb 15, 2017
  • Stanley Jones
    Stanley Jones, Llano del Camello

    I am very satisfied with Oliver, he was very helpful and always happy to assist.


    I would definitely use the same lawyer again in the future.


    Jan 17, 2017
  • Malcolm John Lewis
    Malcolm John Lewis, Germany

    Totally professional and helpful in every way, helped to solve problems that arose and so would recommend to anyone.


    Dec 15, 2016
  • Raquel Flores Camua
    Raquel Flores Camua, Abbotsford

    Rossana was excellent in all these qualities – responsiveness, understanding, value for money, ability to explain and provide appropriate legal solutions, approachability and professionalism.


    Couldn’t ask for more, extremely satisfied with her service and sincere attention to my interests.


    Dec 12, 2016
  • Centa P Cronin
    Centa P Cronin, Fuerteventura

    Beatriz was very friendly…easy to engage with….efficient service.


    She couldn’t have done more.


    Nov 26, 2016
  • CW
    CW, Ibiza

    Very knowledgeable and supportive from the outset.


    Made to feel very comfortable and nothing was too much trouble. Very highly recommended.


    Nov 22, 2016
  • Nick C
    Nick C, London

    I have to say he was excellent. Perfect English.I was dreading it and he appreciated my position and showed a lot of empathy.


    Fernando was very responsive with very quick turnaround. Explained all areas of the law in an understandable and uncomplicated way. Professional and cost effective.


    I deal with a lot with lawyers through my business and he is one of the best ones I have come across.


    Nov 04, 2016
  • Michael Anthony
    Michael Anthony, Malaysia

    I found Francisco to be very understanding of my needs and was able to discuss frankly with him on sensitive and personal matters.


    I found Francisco to be extremely professional, helpful, knowledgeable and importantly very approachable. I would certainly recommend him to anyone who needed such services and I would certainly use him and his law firm again if the need arose.


    Aug 19, 2016
  • Kate Godbehere
    Kate Godbehere, Granada

    From the outset, Rosa was extremely professional, approachable, efficient and competent. Her level of English is extraordinary, something very much appreciated as it made life easier for me during an inherently difficult time.


    Her correspondence was always relevant, detailed, simply and clearly explained and expressed. Rosa was kindly, matter of fact, calm, patient and always reassuring.

    Her pro-active, intelligent, thoughtful and knowledgeable advice helped very much during a particularly delicate and worrying stage of the process.


    Feb 25, 2016
  • Thomas Hills
    Thomas Hills, Spain

    Legally I believe everything was covered in what I think was a complicated situation, so I am satisfied that I was well represented.


    No problems were encountered with language, as the lawyer had perfect English. Meetings were scheduled and kept, which is good for Spain !

    Overall I am very satisfied with the service.


    Mar 13, 2015
  • Brett Goldsmith
    Brett Goldsmith, Canada

    He helped me not to put certain points in my divorce, that I later may have regretted. Often in haste a person will ask for or give certain concessions that later will be inappropriate.


    I was fortunately stopped from doing this by my lawyer Pedro.


    Pedro has a professional, helpful and friendly approach.


    Sep 21, 2014
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