Jurisdiction in Divorce Proceedings

Jurisdiction

In the twenty-first century, it is now easier then ever for families to split their time between different countries for personal, family or employment reasons. However, in the unfortunate event of a marital or civil partnership breakdown, arrangements such as this can pose problematic when deciding in which country Divorce proceedings should be issued.

Parties wishing to petition for Divorce in Northern Ireland must satisfy the Court that Northern Ireland is the correct jurisdiction in which to do so. This can be evidenced by proving one of the following grounds:

  • Both the Petitioner and Respondent are habitually resident in Northern Ireland.
  • The Petitioner and Respondent were formerly both habitually resident in Northern Ireland and either of the parties still resides here.
  • The Respondent is habitually resident in Northern Ireland.
  • The Petitioner is habitually resident in Northern Ireland and has resided here for at least one year immediately prior to the presentation of the Petition. (If this ground is applicable, it is necessary to provide addresses of where the Petitioner has resided, along with the length of time at each address.
  • The Petitioner is domiciled and habitually resident in Northern Ireland and has resided here for at least six months immediately prior to the presentation of the Petition. (Again it is necessary to provide details of address at which the Petitioner has lived, along with confirmation of times that they have resided there.)
  • The Petitioner and Respondent are both habitually resident in Northern Ireland.

If none of the above grounds apply and the Petitioner still alleges that the Northern Irish Court has jurisdiction, proceedings can be issued here under Regulation (EC) 2201/2003  on the basis that no other Contracting State has jurisdiction, and that either the Petitioner or Respondent are domiciled in Northern Ireland on the date that the Petition is issued. The other ‘Contracting States’ referred to are all other Member States of the EU, with the exception of Denmark.

In practice, it is likely that establishing jurisdiction may be a straightforward matter which can clearly be evidenced by the facts of the case. Should a conflict arise, proceedings may be issued in order to establish which jurisdiction is the correct one.

 

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