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

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

  • Recognition of overseas marriage or civil partnership
  • Overseas marriage
  • Formal validity
  • Essential validity
  • Polygamous marriages
  • Declaration of status
  • Overseas civil partnerships (or equivalent relationships)

In contrast to the recognition of overseas divorce or dissolution of civil partnership, the recognition of an overseas marriage or civil partnership is determined in England and Wales, both before and after 31 December 2020 (implementation period (IP) completion day), by domestic law, and therefore largely unaffected by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU (Brexit). For practical guidance on the recognition of overseas divorce or dissolution, see Practice Notes: Recognition of overseas divorce or dissolution of civil partnership and Recognition of divorce and legal separation under the 1970 Hague Convention. For guidance on the implications of Brexit, see Practice Notes: Brexit and family law and What does IP completion day mean for family law?

Overseas marriages, civil partnerships (or their overseas 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 and Wales

  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 Wales, and

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

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 introduced same-sex marriage in England and Wales and overseas marriages of same-sex couples are now treated as marriages rather

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