Recognition of overseas marriage or civil partnership
Recognition of overseas marriage or civil partnership

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

  • Recognition of overseas marriage or civil partnership
  • Overseas marriage
  • Formal validity
  • Statutory provision
  • Essential validity
  • Polygamous marriages
  • Lex fori
  • Declaration of status
  • Gender recognition
  • Overseas civil partnerships (or equivalent same-sex relationship)

This Practice Note is impacted by the decision of the UK on 23 June 2016 to leave the EU. 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 the recognition of overseas marriage or civil partnership.

Overseas marriages, civil partnerships (or their overseas same-sex equivalent) and related foreign orders are now more commonly encountered. The law is far from straightforward. Three main issues arise:

  1. whether the marriage or civil partnership is recognised in England

  2. whether a formal or informal foreign order relating to a marriage or civil partnership (entered into in this jurisdiction or abroad) is recognised for the purposes of further proceedings or enforcement steps in England, and

  3. the requirements for an application for a declaration of status

Section 212 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (CPA 2004) brought into effect important changes relating to same-sex overseas relationships that largely mirror those relating to marriage. There are some differences, however. Therefore, civil partnership and marriage are considered separately in this Practice Note.

Overseas marriage

The determination of the validity of a marriage entered into abroad is divided into two categories:

  1. the formal validity of a marriage

  2. the essential validity of a marriage

Formal validity

The law governing