Divorce Courts' Jurisdiction Around the World

A review of the jurisdictional rules that apply in countries around the world. This review is provided for guidance only and must be checked with local counsel before any action is taken or not taken.

ANTIGUA The High Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine a divorceproceeding if either spouse has been ordinarily resident in Antigua and Barbuda for at least one year. The High Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine a corollary relief proceeding (for support or custody) if (a) either former spouse is ordinarily resident in Antigua and Barbuda at the commencement of the proceeding; or (b) both former spouses accept the jurisdiction of the court.

AUSTRALIA Australian courts have jurisdiction if either party (1) is an Australian citizen or (2) is domiciled in Australia or (3) has been ordinarily resident in Australia for at least one year.

AUSTRIA Austrian courts have jurisdiction if (1) either party is an Austrian citizen or (2) both parties are aliens but one party permanently resides in Austria (provided courts in husband's home country will recognize the decree) or (3) at least one spouse has no citizenship of any country but permanently resides in Austria.

BELGIUM Belgian courts have jurisdiction if (1) the plaintiff is a national of Belgium or (2) the matrimonial home is in Belgium or defendant's domicile is in Belgium.

BERMUDA Bermuda courts have jurisdiction if either party (1) is domiciled in Bermuda or (2) was ordinarily resident in Bermuda for one year before filing.

BULGARIA Bulgarian courts have "exclusive jurisdiction" if either party is a Bulgarian citizen.

CANADA A Canadian court in a specific Canadian province has jurisdiction in adivorce proceeding if one spouse has been ordinarily resident in that province for one year before filing.

CHILE Chilean courts have jurisdiction if Chile is the defendant's domicile. The wife's domicile is the same as the husband's while he lives in Chile.

COSTA RICA Costa Rica courts have jurisdiction if the parties are domiciled in Costa Rica.

CZECH REPUBLIC Divorce court in place of last common domicile has jurisdiction. If neither spouse is a Czech citizen a Czech court has jurisdiction if (1) at least one spouse resides in the Czech Republic and the decision of the court would be recognised in the courts of the state of common nationality or (2) at least one spouse has resided in the Czech Republic for at least 180 days.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Dominican Republic court has jurisdiction if defendant resides and is domiciled in the Dominican Republic or if plaintiff resides in the Dominican Republic. Domicile is considered to be bona fide residence in the Dom. Rep.

ECUADOR Ecuador courts have jurisdiction if the parties have a bona fide domicile is required. No length of residency is specified to acquire domicile.

EL SALVADOR El Salvador courts have jurisdiction if the conjugal domicile is in El Salvador. No particular length of residency is required.

ENGLAND Courts in England & Wales have jurisdiction if either spouse (1) is domiciled in England or Wales or (2) has been habitually resident in England & Wales for one year prior to filing.

FINLAND Finnish courts have jurisdiction if (1) parties are both Finnish citizens or (2) plaintiff is a Finnish citizen and is or previously was domiciled in Finland or (3) plaintiff has been domiciled in Finland for the past two years or (4) defendant is domiciled in Finland.

GERMANY German courts have personal jurisdiction if (1) one spouse is German or (2) the wife at the time of marriage was German or (3) if both spouses are aliens, at least one of them resides in Germany , provided that a divorce decree will be recognized by laws governing the husband.

GIBRALTAR Gibraltar courts have jurisdiction if either party (1) is domiciled in Gibraltar or (2) was habitually resident in Gibraltar for one year prior to the filing.

GREECE Greek courts have jurisdiction if (1) defendant is domiciled in Greece, or (2) either party is a Greek national or (3) both parties are Greek residents. Greek courts have no jurisdiction if according to the law of the nationality of both spouses such jurisdiction is not recognized.

HONDURAS Honduras courts have jurisdiction if the parties? bona fide domicile is in Honduras.

HONG KONG Hong Kong courts have jurisdiction if, at the time of the issue of proceedings, either party considered Hong Kong to be his or her permanent home (his or her place of domicile) or had been habitually resident in Hong Kong for three years or had a “substantial connection” with Hong Kong.

JAMAICA Jamaican courts have jurisdiction if either party is a Jamaican national or is domiciled in Jamaica or has been resident in Jamaica for a year immediately preceding the date of commencement.

MEXICO Competent court is the court of the matrimonial domicile or, in case of abandonment, the domicile of the abandoned party. Domicile implies permanent rather than temporary residence.

NETHERLANDS Dutch courts have jurisdiction if, at time of filing, (1) both parties are Dutch nationals, or (2) either party has had permanent residence in Netherlands for 12 months or Dutch party for 6 months.

NEW ZEALAND New Zealand courts have jurisdiction if either party is domiciled in New Zealand.

NICARAGUA The court of the conjugal domicile has jurisdiction.

NORWAY Norwegian courts have jurisdiction if (1) the defendant is domiciled in Norway or (2) only the plaintiff is domiciled in Norway, provided that Norway was the parties? last conjugal domicile.

PAKISTAN If one party is Christian, Pakistani courts have jurisdiction only if both parties are domiciled in Pakistan and the petitioner is resident in Pakistan.

PANAMA To obtain a divorce in Panama it is necessary to be domiciled in Panama. To acquire domicile, foreigners must comply with immigration laws and obtain necessary authorization from the Ministry of Government and Justice.

SINGAPORE Singapore courts have jurisdiction if either party (1) is domiciled in Singapore or (2) has been habitually resident in Singapore for three years prior to filing.

SOUTH AFRICA South African courts have jurisdiction if either of the parties is domiciled in South Africa or has been ordinarily resident in South Africa for at least one year.

SPAIN Spanish courts have jurisdiction if (1) both spouses have Spanish nationality, or (2) both spouses are residents of Spain, or (3) plaintiff is a Spanish citizen and a resident of Spain, or (4) defendant is a resident of Spain.

SWEDEN A Swedish court has jurisdiction in matters of divorce if (1) both spouses are Swedish citizens; (2) the petitioner is Swedish citizen and is habitually resident in Sweden or has been so at any time since reaching the age of 18; (3) the petitioner is not Swedish citizen but is habitually resident in the country for at least one year; (4) the defendant is habitually resident in Sweden; (5) the case concerns invalidity of a marriage which was contracted in Sweden; or (6) if, in other cases, the government gives its consent to the cases being heard in Sweden. The government can give its consent only if one of the spouses is Swedish citizen or the petitioner cannot bring the case before the courts of the State of which he is national.

SWITZERLAND A Swiss court has divorce jurisdiction if: (1) The defendant is domiciled in Switzerland or; (2) The plaintiff is both domiciled in Switzerland and has either resided there for one year or is a Swiss citizen; Federal Code on Private International Law, Art. 59(Switz)., or; (3) The spouses are not domiciled in Switzerland and one of them is a Swiss citizen and the action cannot be brought at the domicile of one of the spouses or it would be unreasonable to so require, Federal Code on Private International Law, Art. 60 (Switz).  For these purposes, a natural person has his domicile in the State in which he resides with the intention to remain permanently. "No person can have more than [sic] domicile at the same time." Federal Code on Private International Law, Art. 20 (Switz). 

TAIWAN Court in the Republic of China will generally assume jurisdiction if parties are nationals of R.O.C. or if husband is domiciled in R.O.C. There are no requirements as to length of residence necessary after domicile is acquired and intention is the determining factor to determine domicile.

Providing wise and experienced legal counsel to international families for many years

Aenean lacinia bibendum nulla sed consectetur. Donec sed odio dui. Maecenas sed diam eget risus varius blandit sit amet non magna. Nulla vitae elit libero, a pharetra augue. Curabitur blandit tempus porttitor. Morbi leo risus, porta ac consectetur ac, vestibulum at eros. Cras justo odio, dapibus ac facilisis in, egestas.