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Updated : 04/04/2016


Divorce and legal separation

The reasons for which you can file for divorce or legal separation, as well as the other practicalities of divorce and separation, vary greatly from one EU country to another.

However, a number of EU rules apply in cases involving two or more EU countries – for instance, because you and your spouse live in different countries. Those rules determine which courts have jurisdiction.

You can request a divorce or legal separation either together with your partner as a joint application, or one of you can file the request alone.

Where can you file for divorce/separation?

You can file your request with the courts in the country where:

  • you and your spouse live
  • you last lived together – provided one of you still lives there
  • one of you lives – provided you are filing a joint application
  • your spouse lives
  • you live, if:
    • you have lived there at least 6 months immediately before filing and
    • are a national of that country.

    If you are not a national, you can file only if you have lived there at least 1 year immediately before filing

  • both you and your spouse are nationals.

The court with powers to rule on your divorce is the first court where the request is filed (if it meets the above conditions).

The court with powers to transform a legal separation into a divorce (if this is in line with that country's rules) is the court in the EU country that ruled on the legal separation.

The court with powers to rule may also decide on issues relating to parental responsibility.

Ask a lawyer!

In cases involving two or more EU countries, the law that governs your divorce is not necessarily the law of the country where you can file for divorce. To see which laws apply in your case, how a conflict of laws could be solved and what the consequences would be, we would advise you to consult a specialised lawyer.

Recognition of divorces and legal separations abroad

A divorce or a legal separation granted in one EU country is recognised by other EU countries without any special procedure being required.

Exception – Denmark

EU rules on divorce and legal separation – for instance on jurisdiction and recognition – do not apply to Denmark.

Get details on divorce proceedings in the country (or countries) relevant to you:

Choose :

Sample story

Divorce without mutual consent - jurisdiction in the country of the couple's last common usual residence

An Irish-French married couple, Jack and Marie, lived together in Ireland. Thanks to Marie's connections, Jack found an interesting and well-paid job in France and moved there. One month after starting to work in France, Jack decided to file for divorce in Ireland.

This was possible because the couple last lived together in Ireland and Marie was still resident there.

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