How to divorce from abroad

The world is more connected today than ever before, people travel more and so it’s no surprise that more international marriages are being created. Unfortunately, these marriages are not exempt from divorce either.

5 minutes of reading

Sometimes it can be difficult just to find out where to get a divorce. Imagine you were married in Old Town Square in Prague, she was Czech, he was German, and you lived together in Brussels, Belgium after the wedding. Can you now get a divorce in the Czech Republic? We will answer this and other questions related to international divorces in today’s blog.

Within the EU, the place where you lived together is the main deciding factor

In the European Union, there is a 2003 regulation that tells which courts have jurisdiction in family and matrimonial matters, including divorce or, for example, annulment proceedings. In a bit of a simplified way, this regulation says that you can be divorced by a court in the country where:

  • the spouses are habitually resident, or the spouses were last habitually resident together if one of them still lives there, or
  • the defendant is domiciled, or
  • in the case of a joint application, at least one of the spouses is habitually resident, or
  • the petitioner is habitually resident there for at least one year immediately prior to the filing of the divorce petition (if he or she is also a citizen of that State, six months is sufficient).

Furthermore, the court of the State of which both spouses are national citizens always has jurisdiction to grant the divorce.

So if we take our model exampleCzech wife, German husband, who lived together in Belgium – the answer to the question from the beginning of the article is no, such a marriage cannot be divorced in the Czech Republic. These spouses could get divorced in Belgium because they are habitually resident there. If the wife wanted to get a divorce in the Czech Republic, she would have to move here first and live here for at least six months. On the other hand, if you and your husband both have Czech citizenship but live abroad, you can always get a divorce in a Czech court.

Divorce from a non-EU nationality

If one (or both) of the spouses is a citizen of a non-EU country and the spouses do not even live in the EU, then the Regulation does not apply. Again, it will depend on where the spouses live. Each country has its own national legislation which says when its courts can and cannot rule on divorces.

In the Czech Republic, we find this regulation in the Private International Law Act. If there is no international treaty governing the situation or EU regulation, then the rule is that Czech courts can divorce you if:

  • at least one of the spouses is a Czech citizen, or
  • the respondent (i.e. the one who did not file for divorce) is habitually resident in the Czech Republic.

So a Czech court can easily divorce a marriage between two foreigners if both of them are habitually resident here. In some cases, a Czech court may even divorce a marriage between two foreigners even if the respondent is not domiciled here – for example, if both spouses lived in the Czech Republic and the petitioner still lives here, or if the petitioner is habitually resident here and the other spouse has joined the petition.

Divorce of a marriage

We will guide you through the entire divorce process, from filing for divorce to court approval. We will ensure the best possible outcome for you, your child and your assets. We proceed quickly, expertly and discreetly. You pay after the service has been provided.

Can I choose from more than one country to file for divorce?

It is often the case that the laws of different countries overlap, so you may be able to choose where to get a divorcei because courts in more than one country will have jurisdiction.

It will depend on which spouse files for divorce where. As you can see, the rules for international divorces are very complicated and we will only describe a few typical situations, but there are a number of exceptions. We therefore always recommend that you take advice from a specialist who will also recommend where divorce proceedings are quicker, cheaper and more likely to be worthwhile.

Under what law will it be decided?

The fact that the divorce proceedings are taking place in a Czech court does not necessarily mean that the court will rule on the divorce, children, or property under Czech law. It is good to know that these are two completely different things. In the case of an international divorce, the court will always first examine the so-called applicable law – that is, the law under which it will decide the case.

For example, if a Czech court were to divorce a Ukrainian and a Czech couple who had lived together in Germany constantly – it would have to decide according to German law.

Recognition of the decision

If you divorce abroad and then return to the CzecRepublic, you need to have documents for the Czech authorities. If you have an EU divorce judgment, you just need to have it officially translated into Czech. If you have a divorce decree from a non-EU country, you must have it formally recognised by a Czech court.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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