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By Rosalind (Ros) Nunoo, ASM Plus’s immigration adviser and a member of its Family Team. This article explains how the complexities of UK immigration law can impact on non-UK citizens who are in the process of divorcing or separating or who are involved in child related disputes. It also underlines the need for those who may be potentially affected to take legal advice before becoming involved in any court proceedings.

Primarily in response to Brexit, UK Immigration law continues to evolve rapidly and significantly.

Did you know that with effect from 1st January 2021 a new rule has been in place that may affect your divorce process?

  • The country with the closest connection to a divorce will have Jurisdiction to deal with the proceedings.
  • All divorce proceedings issued since 1st January 2021 are to be governed by the 1970 Hague Divorce Recognition Convention
  • Only 12 EU member states are currently parties to the 1970 Hague Divorce Recognition Convention.

The objective of the Hague Divorce Recognition Convention is to facilitate the recognition in one contracting state of a divorce/separation obtained in another contracting state. This is reassurance to divorced/separated couples that their new status shall receive the same recognition abroad as in their country where the divorce/separation is obtained. The Convention is set to simplify the possibility of remarriage and it clarifies the legal relationship of the parties concerned.

The Convention simplifies the possibility of remarriage by the automatic recognition of the divorce and clarifies the legal relationship of the couple concerned and any dependent children.

Do you know what to do to secure your Leave to Remain in the UK after a divorce Post Brexit?

There is a requirement for a BRP (Biometric Residence Permit) holder to notify the UK Visas & Immigration Authority of a relevant change in circumstances such as a breakdown of a marriage.

You may be entitled to apply for naturalisation as a British citizen in the event of a divorce from your British spouse/partner. You may also be able to register children of the family as British Citizens in the event of a breakdown of your relationship.

Naturalisation is the most common way to get citizenship if you were born outside the UK and neither of your parents are British citizens.

One needs to have permission to live in the UK permanently, for instance, grant of Indefinite Leave to Remain or ‘Settled Status’ from the EU Settlement Scheme.

Non-citizens would need to do this even if their spouse is a British citizen.

Additionally, there are a number of other rules that must be complied with. However,  it is much easier to meet the requirements if your husband, wife or civil partner is a British citizen. There are different ways you could meet the requirements if you are a citizen of an EU country, the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

Seeking Legal Advice – the outline of the complex relevant UK citizenship requirements that divorcing or separating couples and all those involved in child related disputes may have to consider demonstrates the importance of taking legal advice from an appropriately qualified lawyer before starting any court proceedings.  Given the unique combination of my immigration law related skills and my considerable past experience as a family lawyer I am very well placed to advise and assist in cases where one of the affected parties is not a UK citizen.

Rosalind’s contact details

Telephone – +44 20 8290 7982

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