The jurisdiction divorce proceedings are filed in will ordinarily be reserved as the jurisdiction for divorce and financial matters until resolution. Where multiple jurisdictions are available the merits of each should be thoroughly considered.

Different jurisdictions can offer different advantages and disadvantages to each spouse. Within the United Kingdom there are three different legal jurisdictions – England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. It may be possible depending on your circumstances that proceedings could be filed in more one than one jurisdiction.

Each jurisdiction has its own specific approach to divorce and financial issues. For example, if you believe you may be liable for spousal maintenance you may look to petition in Scotland if the jurisdiction exists to do so, where the Courts favour shorter maintenance terms. Of course, when making the decision as Petitioner, there are often a multitude of other considerations to be taken on board rather than just one.

Unfortunately, it is not as simple as ‘picking-and-choosing’the jurisdiction. You will need to persuade the court it has jurisdiction in your case. Two of the most common jurisdictional bases in England & Wales are your domicile or habitual resident. Habitual residence can usually be defined as your permanent home, typically proven by 12 months residence. Domicile is less prescriptive but will often be described as where you intend to make your permanent home. For many people who have moved abroad with their partner they may hope to return to where they grew up on deciding to separate; domicile is often cited relied on in these instances. Provided you intend to return to make England or Wales your permanent home you may be able to rely on this provision.

The competing advantages of different jurisdictions can sometimes lead to a ‘jurisdiction race’.

If you believe there is jurisdiction to petition in multiple jurisdictions you should speak with one of our experienced solicitors. We will be able to discuss your case and help you decide where best to instigate proceedings to secure the best jurisdiction for you.

Alara is a paralegal at Stephens Scown, providing support to the Family teamin Exeter.  If you would like to contact the team about the jurisdiction divorce proceedings, then please call 01392 210700 or email