One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to divorce law is that people believe you need to go back to the country in which you were married to get a divorce. UK law provides that if just one of the divorcees is living in the UK at the time you decide your marriage is over and you want to get a divorce, you can do so.
For example, if you and your spouse were living in the UK together and then your marriage broke down and one of you moved back to Poland, you do not need to get a divorce in Poland. You can go ahead with proceedings in the UK. Such a divorce will be recognised in Poland since there are cross-border treaties to recognise such proceedings taken in another EU Country. If the spouses do not share a country of residence when the divorce starts, the relevant law is the law of the country where one of you resides.
You can also get a divorce in the UK even if the last place you and your spouse lived together was in Poland. This is because under EU Regulation (Art 21(3) and Art 29(2) of the Brussels Ila Regulation) jurisdiction is determined based on the place of residence of the person against whom an application for a decision that a judgement should be recognised is lodged. It is also in accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003) (under Art 21 of the Brussels Ila Regulation) that when there are issues concerning different jurisdiction, recognition and enforcing judgements from different countries, decisions in matrimonial matters are automatically recognised in Poland.
But, the crucial question. Why would you divorce in the UK rather than Poland?
A divorce in Poland can take years to finalise if you decide to go down the fault-based route. This is when you argue your marriage has broken down due to bad behaviour from your spouse. It can take years because it is ordered in Poland and you must attend a Court hearing to show evidence of this bad behaviour. The Judge may then assess that one spouse is at fault, both are at fault or neither are at fault. Conversely, in the UK although still a Court process the divorce is based mainly upon the paperwork sent to the judge. No live evidence is necessary. It’s a simple, straightforward and comparatively quick process. Moreover, if you are instructing a lawyer to do this for you then the costs can be far less than a protracted litigation process culminating in a Court attendance. Less stressful too no doubt.
In the UK, if you say your spouse has had an affair, or they have been abusive, you explain it in a form and send it off to Court. If you feel your spouse will not agree to sign the divorce petition then in certain circumstances, the Court may allow for the case to proceed as though it is not disputed. Contested divorces are in any event rare, and with the almost certain outcome that a judge will decide the marriage is over. Since such an outcome is pretty much a foregone conclusion Judges will do all they can to persuade a reluctant spouse to agree to the divorce proceeding without the time and expense of a formal Court hearing.
A lot of people worry about a divorce because they think it is going to cost them thousands and they are going to lose their life long savings. This is not necessarily the case. A divorce is the legal dissolution of marriage by a court. A division of assets is when you are your spouse cannot agree on dividing your property. The two do not necessarily go hand in hand.
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The author of the article is our solicitor –
Chris Germain, who is also Legal Director in Optimal Solicitors.