Jurisdiction for petitions for divorce and judicial separation
Jurisdiction for petitions for divorce and judicial separation

The following Family guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Jurisdiction for petitions for divorce and judicial separation
  • Jurisdiction for divorce and judicial separation
  • Residual jurisdiction
  • Competing jurisdictions
  • Marriage of same-sex couples
  • Completing the petition

This Practice Note is impacted by the exit of the UK from the EU on 31 January 2020. This has implications for practitioners considering which courts have jurisdiction to determine a dispute. For guidance, see Practice Note: Brexit and family law. This Practice Note sets out the current position on jurisdiction for petitions for divorce and judicial separation.

Where more than one country may have jurisdiction to hear divorce proceedings, care should be taken to determine which may be the most advantageous jurisdiction for the client. Advice should be taken from a lawyer in the other jurisdiction as to the likely outcome of proceedings on finances or children issues. Time may be of the essence in commencing proceedings where there are competing jurisdictions, as jurisdiction may be determined by which court was first seised of the proceedings.

Jurisdiction for divorce and judicial separation

The courts in England and Wales only have jurisdiction to entertain proceedings for divorce and judicial separation if the court has jurisdiction under Council Regulation EC 2201/2003, the Council Regulation on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Matrimonial Matters and in matters of Parental Responsibility (commonly called Brussels II bis) or, where no court of a contracting state has jurisdiction under that Regulation and either of the parties is domiciled in England and Wales on the date