There are very few people who do not recognise how extremely difficult the decision to divorce is for most people. If the parties come from two separate countries or have relocated one spouse's country for work or other purposes a divorce can create a host of complicated issues that must be resolved, especially if there are children involved. If you are reliant on your spouse's status to live in the UK and plan to divorce you may lose your right to live in the UK.
The added complication of Brexit looming and the potential for instant loss of free movement across Europe makes it more difficult for all EU citizens living and working in the UK.
Once the difficult decision to divorce has been made you must tell the Home Office immediately. If you do not do this it may affect your position at a later stage. If you depend on your spouse for your visa.
Here is a guide to the steps you should take if you wish to stay in the UK after divorce:
1. Check your own status, it may be that you are eligible to remain in the UK and can apply for indefinite leave to remain.
2. If this is not the case you may be able to remain if your child/children are:
3. Under the age of 18 or were under the age of 18 when you first applied
- Your child must be dependent on you and cannot have left home and have been leading a separate life when you apply
- Your child must be living in the UK
and one or more of the following applies to them:
- Your child is a British citizen
- Your child has settled status, indefinite leave to remain or proof of permanent residence
- Your child has lived in the UK for seven years continuously and it would be unreasonable for them to have to leave
4. You must have sole or shared responsibility for your child. If you have shared responsibility the other person with parental responsibility cannot be your partner and must be a person who is either a UK citizen or has settled in the UK.
5. If your child lives with their other parent you will have to prove that you have a considerable role in your child's upbringing which will continue after the divorce and you will have to be able to document the close association with your child. Such evidence as
- a letter from your child's school confirming that you take or collect your child from school and regularly attend parents' evenings
- a letter from a medical professional, such as a dentist, confirming that you take your child to appointments
6. Another parent at your child's school can vouch for your commitment to your child but they will have to provide documentary evidence of their identity, such as their passport
7. You will have to be able to demonstrate that you have good English.
8. You will have to be able to demonstrate that you are financially independent and can support yourself and your child.
If you are unable to fulfil the requirements listed above you may still be able to extend your stay in the UK if your child has lived in the UK for seven years and it would be unreasonable for them to leave. You will only be able to extend your residence in the UK for two and a half years after which you may be able to apply to extend your stay further. There is a fee to pay when you extend your stay which, if you cannot afford to pay may be waived if you are living in hardship.
Giambrone's experienced family lawyers are expert cross-border divorce lawyers and have extensive experience with complex divorces involving individuals with different nationalities and frequently advise and mediate on such matters as custody and the financial arrangements.
If you would like to know more about how you can retain the right to remain in the UK after divorce please click here.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.