Marriages in foreign countries leave UK couples at risk of legal complications

Marriages in foreign countries leave UK couples at risk of legal complications

31st January 2024

Tying the knot under blue skies in a hot, sunny country may seem the perfect dream for many couples amid the long, dark, freezing winter, but those shunning the UK to marry abroad run the risk of their union not being legally recognised in this country.

Without legal registration of the marriage in their chosen destination, couples need to hold a legally recognised civil ceremony in the UK to avoid the risk of legal complications and financial ruin in the event of the death of a spouse.

The risk of a legally invalid wedding and associated legal complications extends to British couples seeking unique or wacky weddings in exotic and far flung locations.

Unless the ceremonies are thoroughly researched and conducted in an official manner it can leave couples unwittingly living together as cohabitees, with far fewer legal rights.

Marriages outside of the UK can be different to marriages here. If the ceremony does not create a legal marriage in that country, this can leave the couple without the same rights as a married couple on their return to the UK.

Couples are recommended to thoroughly research their plans and ensure they are watertight – that the ceremony is legally registered in their chosen destination, or that they have a civil ceremony in a register office in this country too. This will save a lot of stress and potential financial ruin in the event of death or a divorce.

For further advice on this, or any other related matter, please contact our friendly Matrimonial team.

Article written by Solicitor & head of Family & Matrimonial team, Kate Booth