British Expat divorce advice

We are all aware that many Britons are now living abroad due to work commitments.  Those in Dubai/UAE may find it very difficult to access expert advice in relation to family issues, particularly because the legal system is so different from the UK – a maze, and totally incomprehensible.  However, British ex-pats may still be able to access family justice through the English courts despite living abroad.

In the case of divorce, this can be applied for in the English court if any of the following applies to you:-

(a)       If it can be proved that you are still domiciled in England – i.e. that you were born in England and have the intention to return permanently.

(b)       Whether you or your ex-spouse are habitually resident in England – i.e. live here for a majority of the time.

Obtaining a divorce through the English court is relatively simple, especially if both of you are in agreement.  The procedure can take five to six months to finalise as long as no complications arise.

In order to obtain an ex-pat divorce, it must be proved that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.  This can be done by satisfying one of the following facts:-

(i)         That your spouse has committed adultery and you now find it intolerable to live with them.

In proving this fact, be sure to ensure that your spouse will admit to the adultery in writing.

(ii)        Your spouse has behaved unreasonably and you find it intolerable to live with them.

This is the most common fact relied on.  The particulars of unreasonable behaviour need not be too harsh – but do need to be strong to satisfy the court.  A long narrative is not required either – four or five paragraphs will do.

(iii)       Your spouse has deserted you for two years.

(iv)       You have both been living separately for two years and your spouse consents to the divorce.

(v)        You have both been living separately for five years.

Once you have decided your fact and you satisfy the ground of jurisdiction, then provided that your spouse agrees to the divorce, the procedure is straightforward.  There is no need for any attendance at court – the matter becomes a paper exercise.

Your spouse will be served with the paperwork officially though the court and he/she will need to complete an acknowledgement form indicating an agreement to the divorce.  Once this form is returned to the court an application for Decree Nisi is submitted on your behalf to the court, and thereafter an application for Decree Absolute.

You are able to withdraw proceedings up to any time before Decree Absolute.

Why divorce through the English court?

Compared to many countries the procedure through the English court is quicker, cheaper and less stressful.

If you feel that you have questions, then please give us a call on +442076299905, or send your enquiry through on and one of our lawyers will be happy to assist.

Shabana Walayat
Shortlands Law Firm Ltd
Telephone: 0207 629 9905

 Filter By Category

Recent Post


Please fill the form below to arrange your fixed cost initial appointment.


    Please fill the form below to request a free call back: