A married couple from Russia and Latvia discovered they were trapped ‘till death us do part’ when they tried to get a divorce recently due to a glitch in Icelandic law.
The same-sex couple travelled to the island nation of Iceland to get married in 2011. When they applied for a divorce they exposed Iceland’s massive mistake – in Icelandic family law it is not yet legal for same-sex couples, from countries where gay marriage is illegal, to get a divorce.
Iceland is a long-established wedding tourism destination. The country’s dramatic landscapes and northern lights have made Iceland a popular destination for both weddings and honeymoons for decades.
Iceland became the ninth country in the world to make same-sex marriage legal in 2010. Shortly after, the law was amended to allow non-residents to marry. Since then it has been a popular destination for gay couples from abroad to wed, especially those who cannot legally get married in their own countries.
When the amendment to the law was made to allow foreign gay couples to wed in Iceland there was a bit of an oversight. They forgot to make it legal for same-sex couples to get an international divorce. What makes it worse for the couple from Russia and Latvia is that Iceland is not in a rush to amend the law.
The glitch in Icelandic divorce law means that in order for gay couples from countries where same-sex marriage is still illegal to get a divorce, at least one of them must move to Iceland and live there for two years before the divorce can be allowed.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers are experienced in international divorce and can give advice to couples living overseas who decide on getting divorced. International divorce is a notoriously difficult area of law so it is crucial to get expert legal advice. Where you decide to begin divorce proceedings can have a significant impact particularly on the financial settlement you receive. Where there may be more than one country where you can divorce our international family law experts can advise you on how best to proceed.
To discuss your situation with an International Divorce Solicitor call Slater and Gordon Lawyers on +44 20 7657 1555 from outside the UK or 0800 916 9055 from inside the UK. Our phone lines are open 24/7. Alternatively, you can contact us online and we’ll be happy to call you back.