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Can divorce affect your right to remain in the UK

View profile for Jo Lingard
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Depending on your immigration status within the UK, a divorce, dissolution or in some cases simply the breakdown of a relationship can affect your immigration status. The impact and outcome will ultimately depend on a number of varying factors and need to be considered case by case.

British Citizen’s/Indefinite Leave to Remain

If you are a British citizen or have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), sometimes referred to as “settled”, your status should not be adversely affected by a divorce, dissolution or a relationship breakdown, provided those with ILR were granted their status prior to any divorce or dissolution.

Spouse Visa

If you are in the UK on the basis of your partner being a British citizen or holding ILR status, but you yourself do not have ILR status then the breakdown of a relationship may alter your immigration status. The person with a vulnerable immigration status will immediately cease to meet one of the primary requirements to stay in the UK. This breach will occur when the relationship breaks down, rather than the finalisation of any divorce or dissolution. As such, it is important that anyone who may have vulnerable immigration status and is considering a divorce or dissolution, seek appropriate legal advice as soon as possible when considering separating to ensure they do not find themselves breaching their visa requirements.

EEA Nationals and their families

There are special arrangements in place for EEA nationals (which includes EU countries, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway) and family members of EEA nationals. Under EU law, a person separating from an EEA national can apply for a “retained right” to remain in the UK in certain situations. There is still a risk that this right to remain could be revoked, however, unlike spouse visa’s, the key date is the termination of the marriage, rather than the breakdown of the relationship.


There are also a number of provisions which may entitle you to remain in the UK if you have a child who is a British citizen or has ILR. Depending on the circumstances, a child may either entitle a person to remain in the UK or the child may also need to make an application to remain in the UK. However, the predominant theme is that it is not normally reasonable for a child to be expected to leave the UK.

How can Hughes Paddison help you

The process of divorce, dissolution or a breakdown of a relationship can be a challenging and emotional process, made even more so through any immigration implications. Hughes Paddison can support and assist you with navigating separation and highlight legal factors to be mindful of.

Through our knowledge and experience we are able to assist clients on all aspects of separation and divorce. Where necessary we refer clients to specialist immigration lawyers, to assist alongside any divorce or dissolution.

If you are considering divorce or dissolution then please do contact one of our family team secretaries on 01242 574 244 to see how we can assist you.

The information contained on this page has been prepared for the purpose of this blog/article only. The content should not be regarded at any time as a substitute for taking legal advice.