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Expat Divorce

Marriages face the same ups and downs overseas as those at home, and in some cases the very essence of a life abroad can place even more stress and strain on a long-term partnership.
Expat Divorce
When an expat couple considers divorce, there are additional elements to consider because of living overseas.

Counselling, Coaching and Support Groups

Before you step to the lawyer’s office to finalise a divorce, there are places to turn for support that may help you determine whether there is an alternative to starting divorce proceedings.

There are many expat counsellors and coaches, as well as support groups set up overseas, which target expats specifically and are tuned in to the problems encountered by those living in a foreign country.

Approaching such a specialist or group may help you realise the source of your marital issues. Perhaps moving overseas has exacerbated existing problems in the relationship, or created entirely new conflicts. If you determine that moving overseas is a root cause of your marital problems, this may provide an alternative route before a divorce is considered. Many partners experience a loss of personal identity when they move overseas, particularly if they have given up a career or find themselves unable to work in their host country.

Feeling alone in a foreign country can make a partner resentful, longing for a way out. These kind of external factors place extra strain on a marriage but enlisting the help of a life coach or counsellor for example, could save your relationship.

Getting Legal Help

If there really is no way back and divorce is the next step, then getting legal help is a must, not only to execute the divorce itself but to ensure that you have the best advice on your rights, where to divorce and to ensure that you, and where applicable, your children are protected. It is essential that you make sure you are provided with a full picture of the laws and legal processes in both your home and host country.

It is advisable to procure the services of a lawyer specialised in expat divorce and international family law and to hire a company or individual with a good reputation, rather than the lawyer that just offers you the best price. Your embassy should be able to provide you with a list of lawyers.

Where to Divorce

Divorce law and family law varies from country to country, so you need to ascertain which is the best country in which to file for divorce. Sometimes it is an advantage to divorce in your home country, the country where you married or your host country, and a knowledgeable lawyer will be able to advise you on this. The right to a divorce in your home country will depend on you and/or your partner meeting residency requirements and you need to be sure that a divorce in your host country is recognised in your home country.

Bear in mind that filing for a divorce in a country other than where you are currently living may present challenges because of time zone differences and travel costs in the event of necessary court appearances and this needs to be weighed up in your choice of where to file.

Specialist Issues

There may be a short route in some countries to obtaining a divorce if there is mutual consent for the break-up. If the divorce is contested, then the proceedings are more complex and may require court appearances and mediation.

If there are children involved divorce certainly becomes more complex, particularly if a married couple have differing nationalities. Hiring a family law specialist is well advised to ensure that you cannot be accused of kidnapping should you travel with your children. This is a particular risk if your surname differs from that of your children, and you may need to show written permission from your partner to travel overseas with them whilst any divorce case is pending or in process.


You will need to show a host of documents to divorce so ensure that you have access to the various required paperwork (and potentially certified translations). This will include your marriage certificate, house and mortgage papers, financial documentation and local registration papers.

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