How Brexit Affects Divorce Proceedings

Any proceedings started before 31 December 2020 should continue in the country that
issued proceedings. The EU and the UK have both indicated that divorces that started before the end of the transition period will be recognized by each other.

Divorce Proceedings from 1 January 2021


If you started divorce proceedings on after 1 January 2021; the post-Brexit rules will apply.
The English and Welsh Court indicated that the decision of where the divorce should be
issued will be made on the basis of the country the parties have the closest connection with.
Divorce is governed by Domicile and Matrimonial Act 1973 which provides that English and
Welsh Court have jurisdiction to entertain proceedings for divorce if any of the following
(a) Both parties to the marriage are habitually resident in England and Wales;
(b) Both parties to the marriage were last habitually resident in England and Wales and one
of them continues to reside there;
(c) The respondent is habitually resident in England and Wales;
(d) The applicant is habitually resident in England and Wales and has resided there for at
least one year immediately before the application was made;
(e) The applicant is domiciled and habitually resident in England and Wales and has resided
there for at least six months immediately before the application was made;
(f) Both parties to the marriage are domiciled in England and Wales; or
(g) Either of the parties to the marriage is domiciled in England and Wales.

What is habitual residence?


A person can only be habitually resident in one place at any one given time. The essence of
the habitual residence lies in establishing the “center of interest” of a person’s life. It is
important to note that habitual residence in one country may not be lost despite a lengthy
the period in another and that there is no requirement that the center of interest has to be
permanent; it need only be habitual but must have a stable character.

What is domicile?


Domicile is a more universal concept. A person is said to be domiciled in a country where
the permanent home is. Everyone has a domicile and can only have one operative domicile
at any one time.

Recognition of your Divorce outside the UK


If your divorce was granted or started in the UK before 31 December 2020 all EU Member
States will recognize the decision. However, to be as certain, it is best to get a Certificate of
Recognition as soon as reasonably possible. Especially if you plan to live or work in any of
the EU Member States.

If your divorce proceedings started after 1 January 2021, then some EU Member States may not recognize your divorce. 12 out of the 27 Member States signed the Hague Convention
on the Recognition of Divorces and Legal Separations. The following countries will still
recognize a divorce issued in the UK:
– Cyprus
– Czech Republic
– Denmark
– Estonia
– Finland
– Italy
– Luxemburg
– Netherlands
– Poland
– Portugal
– Slovakia
– Sweden

If you need a divorce to be recognized in any of the 15 EU Member States it is important to
seek legal advice.
Our specialist team of family solicitors are available to support you through a variation of
family law issues including divorce and legal separation, financial and child arrangements,
cohabitation agreements, prenuptial agreements, and civil partnerships.

Please call us now on 0203191 08080 alternatively, you can email us on