International Divorce

Thousands of Britons relocate overseas each year, many with their families. If their marriage hits a rough patch and divorce becomes a reality, the question of "where to file" becomes an important one.

The country you choose for your divorce can have a big impact on how events unfold. That's why consulting a family law specialist is crucial - they can guide you through the pros and cons of filing in different countries and recommend the best path for your unique situation.

The family law specialists at Sousa Law have years of experience guiding families through the complexities of international divorce. Below, we'll break down the key factors to consider when choosing where to file and how our lawyers can help you navigate the process.

Which country should I initiate my divorce in?

Choosing the right country to file for divorce can significantly impact the outcome of your case. Here are some important factors to consider:


In international divorces, it’s important to determine which court has the authority to handle your case - this is called jurisdiction. A court typically has jurisdiction if one or both spouses live there (residency) or consider it their permanent home (domicile). Knowing which countries have jurisdiction over your case will help you narrow down your legal options.

Grounds for divorce

Divorce laws differ around the world. Some countries require specific reasons like adultery or abuse to grant a divorce, while others (including England and Wales) allow no-fault divorce. Think about which divorce rules might work best for your situation when deciding on a country.

Pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements

A pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement can significantly impact which country you choose to file for divorce in an international situation. Here's why:

  • The agreement's validity and enforceability depend on the country's laws where the divorce happens. Some countries readily uphold prenups, while others have stricter requirements or give more weight to spousal rights during divorce.
  • Prenups or postnups often have a jurisdiction clause specifying the preferred country for handling the divorce and enforcing the agreement. This clause can influence the court's decision on which jurisdiction applies.
  • The agreement's terms might favour one spouse more in a specific jurisdiction. Choosing the country that upholds the agreement most favourably can be strategically advantageous.

Here's an example: A couple with a pre-nuptial agreement drafted in England gets married and lives in France. If they divorce, the French court might prioritise spousal rights over the prenup unless the agreement adheres to specific French requirements. Filing for divorce in England, where the prenup was drafted, could be more favourable if English law upholds the agreement.

Division of assets and debts

Different countries have different rules on how marital property is divided during divorce. Some equally divide all assets and debts acquired during the marriage (community property), while others consider separate property acquired before the marriage (common law). Knowing these differences can affect how much you walk away with financially.

Spousal support

Spousal support laws also vary by country. Some countries allow courts to award spousal support based on factors like length of marriage and income disparity, while others do not. Consider which approach is more favourable to you and your family’s needs.

Child custody and visitation

If you have children, the court will decide who the children live with and how often they see the other parent. They may also make decisions based on issues like child abduction or if one parent wants to move abroad with the children.

It's important to choose a country that prioritises the well-being of your children in its legal system. Our guide can help you navigate this process in more detail.


The costs of divorce can vary significantly based on where you file. Legal fees, court filing fees, and how complicated your case is all play a big role. Be sure to consider the financial burden associated with each possible location before you decide where to file.


The time it takes to get divorced can vary a lot depending on the country. Some countries can move the process along quickly, while others might drag on for months or even years. If you're in a hurry to make it official, you should think about where you file carefully.

Tax implications

There may be tax implications to consider when divorcing in a foreign country. For example, capital gains taxes on asset division or spousal support payments can vary considerably. It's a good idea to speak with a tax advisor who knows the ins and outs of international divorces before making any big moves.

Language and culture

Language barriers can complicate the divorce process. Ideally, choose a country where you understand the court system's language and culture, as this will make the process easier and save you from hiring a translator.

How can Sousa Law help me navigate international divorce?

Facing an international divorce can be overwhelming. At Sousa Law, we understand the complexities involved and are here to guide you through the process.

Our experienced solicitors can advise you on all aspects of international divorce, including child custody, financial settlements, and business asset division. We’ll work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family, regardless of the countries involved.

Our compassionate approach and practical advice will give you peace of mind throughout the process. Book an appointment online or call us on 02380 713060 for a confidential discussion today.

Make An Appointment

We will assist in many complicated and specialised areas of family law. Discuss your options and contact us on 02380 713060.

Make An Appointment

We will assist in many complicated and specialised areas of family law. Discuss your options and contact us on 02380 713060.
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