..::Recognition of overseas divorces in UK…conditions

Under the Family Law Act 1986 an overseas divorce obtained by means of judicial or other proceedings is recognised in the UK only if:

  • it is effective under the law of the country in which it was obtained; and
  • at the relevant date (that is, the date on which proceedings were begun), either party was either habitually resident or domiciled in that country or was a national of that country.

The term ‘judicial or other proceedings’ requires that there should have been some formal proceedings, either before a court or some other formal body recognised by the state for that purpose (for example, in Pakistan the Union Council). It is an important aspect that the judicial or other body should be impartial as to the outcome of the proceedings.

An overseas divorce obtained otherwise than by means of proceedings is recognised in the UK if:

  • it is effective under the law of the country in which it was obtained; and
  • at the relevant date (that is, the date on which the divorce was obtained), both parties were domiciled in that country or one was domiciled there and the other was domiciled in a country which recognised the divorce; and
  • neither party had been habitually resident in the United Kingdom throughout the period of one year immediately preceding that date.

The term ‘otherwise than by means of proceedings’ covers, for example, a meeting of family members convened to dissolve a West African customary marriage or to hear the pronouncement of talaq.