Overseas marriage and divorce

Overseas marriage and divorce

31 January 2019 Mary McEvoy

At the peak of its popularity, as many as one in four British couples were getting married abroad. We often get asked by clients if there is a requirement, here in the UK, to “register” a marriage (or divorce!) conducted overseas. Here are a number of our most ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ which should be able to answer any queries you have:

Do I need to register my foreign marriage?

There is no need to register an overseas marriage in the UK.

Your marriage or civil partnership will be recognised in the UK if both of the following apply:

  1. You followed the correct procedures in the country where you got married (the marriage is recognised in the country where it took place)
  2. The marriage would be allowed under UK law, for example, it is not a polygamous marriage.

I know I do not have to register my marriage, but what if I want to register it?

Unfortunately, there is no longer a service for registering an overseas marriage in the UK.

All you may be required to do if you have been asked in the UK about the validity of you marriage, is to provide originals or certified copies of your marriage documents, or in some circumstances, it may be necessary for you to have the documents legalized but the relevant organization or authority would inform you of this if required.

You should therefore ensure you look after your marriage certificate in case you ever need to use it as proof of marriage.

Will my overseas divorce be recognised in the UK?

For a foreign divorce order to be valid in England, under the Family Law Act 1986, the foreign order must:

  1. Be valid under the law of the country in which it was obtained; and
  2. At the date at which recognition of the foreign order is sought one of the parties is either:
    a. Habitually resident in the country where the divorce was obtained;
    b. Domiciled in the country where the divorce was obtained; or
    c. A national of the country

I do not have any evidence of my overseas marriage/divorce – how can I prove it?

If you are required, for legal reasons, to prove that you were married/divorced on a particular date, and you do not have any evidence (such as a marriage certificate or decree absolute), you can apply to the court for a declaration of marital status. You have to complete the following form (D70) and issue your application at your local family court:


I have obtained a divorce overseas and now I would like to make a financial application in the UK. Can I do this?

In short, Yes.

If you have divorced overseas, you can still make an application to the UK family courts to deal with finances following your divorce, including income, capital and pensions. If you would like some advice on this, we would recommend you attending one of our fixed fee appointments.

If you would like more information in relation to any of the points raised in this article, please contact the Family team at Neves.