Reading over one of our Family Law publications I recently came across an article about Russia having one of the highest rates of divorce in the world. This got me thinking about overseas marriages, which have become more and more popular in recent years. I am often asked about the validity of marriages abroad and whether it is still possible to have a divorce in this country after a marriage in another country.
Any marriage, which meets the regulations for a marriage in the particular country where that marriage takes place, is recognised by the law in this country. For instance if you marry in Greece and you meet all the necessary legal requirements that Greece imposes for a wedding, your marriage will be recognised here.
If the marriage is recognised here, then it is possible to have a divorce in the courts in this country. There are some other points that need to be met before a divorce petition can be issued in this country - for example either you or your spouse has been resident here for the past 12 months; there are some assets in this country which need to be divided eg property, pension, investments; and there are no divorce proceedings already underway in another country.
If you have a divorce in this country, the assets will be divided according to our law which may not be the same as the law relating to the division of assets on divorce in other countries.
If you have a foreign marriage it is essential that you keep the marriage certificate safe. If it is written in a foreign language try to obtain a translation and have it notarised if at all possible at the time of the marriage. On any divorce you have to be able to provide the original marriage certificate, and a translation if it is not written in English, to the court. If you have lost the foreign marriage certificate it will not be easy to obtain a replacement.
The need to provide the original marriage certificate before divorce proceedings are issued can lead to problems if one spouse retains the certificate and will not give it up to the other when asked. It can effectively prevent divorce proceedings being issued without a replacement being obtained.
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