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Can expats get an online divorce?

In an increasingly globalised world, more and more people than ever now live in their non-native countries. As a result, we’re regularly contacted by expats enquiring about whether an English or Welsh court will be able to grant them a divorce.

Jurisdiction (a term used to describe when an authority can deal with a matter) is often quite straightforward as far as divorce law is concerned. The process of obtaining a divorce via English and Welsh law is often no more difficult for a party living outside of either country than it is for one residing there.

When one party lives in England or Wales

The most common scenario we encounter is a straightforward one: one spouse still lives in England or Wales and the other does not. Under such circumstances, the courts in England and Wales have jurisdiction and can consider a divorce application filed by either party. So, even if the Petitioner (the spouse that files the application for divorce) does not reside in the UK, they can still file for a divorce here and, provided their divorce is uncontested, there is no reason why they could not use the services of an online divorce provider such as Quickie Divorce.

If the Petitioner lives in England or Wales and their spouse resides abroad, then the courts are still able to grant them a divorce. The Petitioner should be made aware of the fact that whilst it’s possible to obtain a divorce without the Respondent’s express consent when both parties live in England or Wales, doing so when the Respondent lives abroad is not possible.

If a divorce relies on the fact that the couple in question have been living separately for more than five years or that the Respondent has behaved unreasonably, then the divorce can proceed without the Respondent informing the court that they consent to it. In order for this to happen, however, the Respondent must be handed documentation (specifically the Divorce Petition filed by the Petitioner and a copy of form D10) by a court-appointed process-server. Unfortunately, the courts do not offer this service when the Respondent is located outside of England or Wales.

What if you know your spouse lives abroad, but you don’t know where?

If someone knows that their husband or wife has moved abroad, but they do not know where, they can obtain a divorce without their spouse’s knowledge provided they have tried to locate them and follow a modified application procedure. You can find out more about this here.


Provided one party lives in either England or Wales and both want a divorce, there is no reason why they cannot use the services of a company like Quickie Divorce and save themselves thousands of pounds in solicitors’ fees.


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