Having a legal separation or divorce obtained abroad (EU and non-EU) recorded in the Civil Registers

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Couples whose civil marriage is recorded in the Luxembourg Civil Registers may, for one reason or another, divorce or separate in a country other than Luxembourg.

Who is concerned

Anyone whose divorce or separation was obtained in a foreign country and whose marriage is recorded in the Luxembourg Civil Registers.

Prerequisites

The following courts have jurisdiction over divorce and legal separation:

  • the courts of the spouses' place of habitual residence;
  • the courts of the the spouses' last place of habitual residence, to the extent that one of them still resides there;
For example: one spouse has moved to France, but the spouses lived together in Luxembourg. In that case, the spouse filing for divorce may commence proceedings in the Luxembourg courts on the condition that one of the spouses still lives at the last place of habitual residence in Luxembourg.
  • the courts of the respondent's place of habitual residence;
For example: one spouse has moved to France after having lived with the other spouse in Luxembourg; the spouse who remains in Luxembourg may commence proceedings either in the Luxembourg courts (see the previous example) or in the French courts.
  • the courts of either spouse's habitual residence, in the event of a joint petition. This is the case in the event of a divorce by mutual consent;
  • the courts of the petitioner's place of habitual residence, if the petitioner has lived there for at least 1 year immediately before commencing proceedings.
For example: one spouse moved to France 14 months ago. The other spouse can then start divorce proceedings in Luxembourg provided that the habitual residence has been maintained since the other spouse moved away.

How to proceed

Divorce and legal separation obtained in an EU Member State

As a rule, judgements handed down in a Member State of the European Union (EU) are recognised by the other Member States without any special procedure being required.

The party seeking recognition of a divorce or separation judgement must submit to the civil registrar with whom the marriage certificate recorded or transcribed in the registers of the local commune was filed (if the marriage was celebrated in another EU country, the civil registrar of the City of Luxembourg is competent):

  • an exemplified copy of the divorce or legal separation judgement which satisfies the conditions necessary to establish its authority;
  • a certificate relating to the divorce or legal separation judgement issued by the court or competent authority of the Member State of origin, at the request of the party in question.

Said civil registrar will then proceed with a preliminary investigation before making the necessary entries in the registers. The following checks are carried out:

  • that the case involves an EU country;
  • the authenticity of the documents submitted.

Within 3 days of the requisition, the civil registrar makes an entry concerning the divorce on:

  • the marriage certificate;
  • and, where applicable, to each of the spouses' birth certificates.

Then, as soon as notification has been received that this entry has been added, and without carrying out any additional checks, the civil registrar makes an entry concerning the divorce in the register of births.

The civil registrar of Luxembourg-City transcribes the operative provisions of the judgement in the register of marriages if the marriage was not celebrated in Luxembourg and has not been recorded in the registers of the Luxembourg commune.

Divorce and legal separation obtained in a third (non EU) country

In this case, the spouse seeking recognition and transcription of the divorce (or the separation) obtained abroad must follow the exequatur procedure. Under private international law, transcribing a judgement to the Civil Registers is considered as enforcement of said judgement. For a divorce or legal separation judgement obtained in a third country to be recorded in the Luxembourg Civil Registers, said judgement must first be declared enforceable within the context of the exequatur procedure.

This a unilateral procedure which is brought before the presiding judge in the district court in the place where the transcription is to be entered, so that the validity of the foreign divorce or legal separation can be verified.

The exequatur procedure requires the services of a barrister.

It is a quick and relatively inexpensive procedure.

Should there be no doubt as to the validity of the foreign divorce or legal separation judgement, the presiding judge will hand down an exequatur decision.

The spouse in question must then submit the decision to the civil registrar with whom the marriage certificate was filed.

The following documents must be attached:

  • a certified copy of the foreign court order;
  • an execution copy of the Luxembourgish exequatur order;
  • a certificate from the barrister acknowledging notification of the court order or an original copy of the writ with which the judgment was served on the opposing party.
Divorces obtained abroad and not confirmed by the exequatur procedure in a Luxembourg court must not be transcribed in Luxembourg Civil Registers, nor recorded by way of an entry added to the Luxembourg registers.

Then the civil registrar with whom the marriage certificate that has been drafted or transcribed is filed, adds an entry relating to the judgement or the exequatur order to:

  • the marriage certificate;
  • and, where applicable, to each of the spouses' birth certificates.

This entry must be added within 3 working days.

As soon as notification that an entry has been added is received, and with no need for any further checks, the civil registrar with whom the birth certificate of the person in question is filed, makes an entry concerning the divorce in the register of births.

The Luxembourg civil registrar transcribes the operative provisions of the judgement or the exequatur order in the register of marriages, if the marriage was not celebrated in Luxembourg and so is not listed in the registers of any Luxembourg commune.

Who to contact

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