Q&A - We are foreign nationals who married in Poland. Can we divorce in England?

Q:  My wife and I are both Polish. We married in Poland but have lived and worked in England since 2006. Unfortunately our marriage has now broken down and we have lived separate lives for two years but I would now like to divorce. As foreign nationals, do we get divorced in England or Poland?

A:  The Courts in England and Wales have jurisdiction to hear a divorce suit only where: (1) both parties are habitually resident in England and Wales, or (2) both parties were habitually resident and one still lives there, or (3) the respondent is habitually resident in England and Wales, or (4) the petitioner is habitually resident in England and Wales and has lived there for one year prior to the petition being filed, or (5) the petitioner is domiciled in England and Wales and has been living in England and Wales for at least six months immediately before the petition is filed, or (6) both parties are domiciled in England and Wales.  

It is, however, also possible that you may be entitled to file for divorce in Poland. Though whilst the Brussels II Convention which was introduced in March 2001 aimed to make the rules regulating divorce jurisdiction across all EU member countries (except Denmark) more consistent, the country in which you file for divorce could make a difference to your settlement. Brussels II also states that wherever divorce proceedings are first issued, that is where the divorce will take place. So it would be advisable to seek in-depth legal advice relating specifically to your full particular circumstances before you decide where to file. 

In the UK it is no longer possible to file for a divorce through the courts without first being assessed for Mediation. Some law firms, like GHP Legal, offer a Mediation service. Using such a firm ensures continuity throughout the full divorce process.


Nathan Wright, Partner at GHP Legal

Nathan Wright


A Partner specialising in Family and Matrimonial Law

Alison Peters

Alison Peters


A Partner in our Family and Matrimonial department in Oswestry