Can I Get A Divorce In The UK? Can I Stay In The UK After I'm Divorced?

According to The Independent, divorce petitioning consultations received by UK law firms have increased by 95% during the pandemic. While we want our clients to be able to try to resolve any issues and conflicts in their relationship before deciding to file for divorce, when the relationship between husband and wife breaks down and divorce is inevitable, Chen Neill Solicitors can help you through the entire process, protecting your rights to the greatest extent, and minimising the harm caused by the divorce.

In this article we have conducted some example questions about divorce applications that we hope will be helpful to you. If you have any other than questions that are not related to divorce applications, such as financial division and child arrangements, please feel free to contact us.

Q: Both spouses are non-British citizens and married outside the UK. The husband works in the UK with a work visa and the wife came to the UK as a dependent on a Dependant Visa. After living together in the UK for several years, the wife wants to file for divorce. In this case, will the wife be able to file for a divorce in the UK and is she able to remain in the UK after the divorce?

A: A marriage registered in an overseas country can be recognised by the British government as long as both parties are able to marry according to their place of residence and meet the formalities required by the law of the place of incorporation. Even though some overseas marriage registration formalities may be invalid under the laws of England and Wales, as long as it meets the rules set out in the local regulations for registration, the court can still consider the marriage valid and accept a divorce application filed by one of the parties.

In answer to the above case, the wife can file for divorce in the UK, but if the wife does not obtain a visa other than the husband's accompanying visa (Dependent visa) after the divorce, then she must leave the UK within the stipulated period.

Q: The husband is an EU citizen living in the UK and the wife is a non-EU or non-UK citizen who is also residing in the UK. Is it acceptable for the British court to accept the following case, the parties have registered their marriage in the wife's home country and have lived as husband and wife in the UK for several years and one of them wants to file for divorce in the UK?

A: Same as the previous situation, the couple can file for divorce in the UK, but the divorce may affect the wife's residency in the UK. If the wife is unable to obtain another residency visa after divorce, the Home Office may ask her to leave the UK.

In a marriage relationship, a party residing in the UK on a spouse or dependent visa may be affected by the divorce and may not be able to remain in the UK. But this problem can be solved by applying for other visas, and the solicitors at Chan Neill Law Firm have extensive experience in handling divorce and immigrant visa cases, which can make the divorce and subsequent stay in the UK as smooth as possible.

Case Study

A couple married outside the UK, the husband is a British citizen and the wife is an non-UK citizen. She lives in the UK with her husband on a Family Visa after marriage and has a child. After living together for three years, the husband files for divorce on the grounds of emotional breakdown, and after the divorce, the wife will lose the family visa that was originally approved for marriage. However, since they both have a child during their lives in the UK, and the husband is British, the child automatically becomes a British citizen at birth. After the divorce, we are able to help the wife to switch the dependent visa of the husband to family visa as a parent, subsequently, she will be able to remain in the UK to take care of the child.

If both husband and wife have no children and are not British citizens, and one of them lives in the UK with an accompanying visa that depends on the other party. They are able to continue to work and live in the UK by applying for one of the following visas: Representative of an Overseas Business Visa, Innovator Visa, or Skilled worker Visa after divorce.

Q: On what grounds can I request a divorce?

A: The divorce petition must provide information on one or more of the following five grounds to convince the court that the marriage has broken down to the point of irreparability in order to accept the divorce application. The five reasons are:

(1) Infidelity/adultery (2) Unreasonable behavior such as domestic violence (3) Abandonment (4) Separation for two years with the consent of the defendant (5) Separation for five years

Q: Do I need to appear in court after my divorce application is accepted in court and divorce proceedings begin?

A: Most divorce cases can be made in writing and the court will not require either spouse to appear in court. During the pandemic, if you file for divorce outside the UK and are unable to return to the UK during divorce proceedings, we can arrange a video conference or conference call for a meeting, or we can represent you if necessary.

Please contact our experienced Family Law team who are fluent in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Portuguese,  Spanish, Russian etc.

What Are The Responsibilities Of Being An Employer In The UK

Previously we shared an article explaining how employers should apply for sponsorship, if employers want to hire oversea employees. We have also given you a detailed overview of the process and documentation required to apply for sponsorship license, you are more than welcome to click here for further details.

In addition to applying for sponsorship license and guaranteeing jobs for overseas employees, employers have many obligations to employees. In today's article we will give you a comprehensive introduction to the responsibilities of employers.


Employers' Liability Insurance

As long as you become an employer in the UK, you must purchase employer liability insurance from an insurance company authorised by the UK government before you can formally hire an employee, and the value of the policy must be at least £5 million. If an employer hires only one family member as an employee, or hires only one employee outside the UK, employer liability insurance may not be required.


Employer's liability insurance can protect employers' benefits in a number of ways, such as helping employers pay compensation when their employees need compensation for work injuries or illnesses. If the employer does not purchase insurance then it will face £2500 per day, accumulating from the date of no insurance. The UK government also checks the employer's certificate of insurance and could also be fined £1,000 if the employer fails to show the certificate of insurance or refuses to provide it when requested by the inspector. Employer liability insurance will vary depending on the business activities of the company, we recommend that employers consult a professional before purchasing employer liability insurance.


Register PAYE (Pay As You Earn)

In addition to purchasing employer liability insurance, employers are also required to register with the HM Revenue & Customs in order to pay taxes and national insurance for their employees through PAYE, the UK's system for collecting income tax and national insurance. Therefore, the employer must register before the first payday, but the registration date cannot be earlier than two months before the payday. It usually takes 5 working days from registration to getting your employer's PAYE reference number.


Employers are required to report employees’ payments and deductions to HMRC on or before each payday. Tax arrears and national insurance amounts are generally calculated through payroll software, which includes employer national insurance premiums for employees earning more than £170 per week.


If the employer is not familiar with the UK tax system, it is advisable for the employer to seek help of an accountant to handle such business.


Register for a Pension scheme

Under the Pensions Act 2008, every employer in the UK must include certain employees in their workplace pension and pay a fee, a liability that begins on the day the employer's first employee starts working, which is known as 'auto-registration'. The UK has a dedicated pensions regulator to ensure that all employers comply with workplace pension laws.


In the scheme, the employer's main responsibility is to monitor the age and income of the employees each time they are paid to determine whether they need to be included in the pension plan and how much the employer needs to pay.

In addition to paying pensions, employers are also obliged to pay the following two fees on behalf of employees.


Income Tax

Personal income tax is a tax levied by the government on personal income, and there are many types of income within the scope of taxation, including:

  • Wage income;
  • Self-employment income;
  • State or social welfare;
  • Pension income, including state pensions, corporate and personal pensions, and retirement annuities;
  • Rental income;
  • Benefit bonuses earned at work;
  • Trust income, etc.


Among them, personal income tax expenses arising from wage income and work benefit bonuses need to be deducted from the wages or bonuses by the employer before paying the wages or bonuses, and then the employer pays taxes to the UK government through PAYE. Employers need to calculate how much income tax deduction is required based on the employee's Tax Code.


The standard Personal Allowance is £12,570, and income exceeding the exemption is taxed at a different rate in each range. The specific income tax rates for the current tax year (from 6 April 2021 to 5 April 2022) are as follows:

Personal allowance Under £12,570 0%
Base tax rate £12,571 to £50,270 20%
High tax rates £50,271 to £150,000 40%
Additional tax rates Over £150,000 45%


If an employee applies for a marriage allowance or a blind allowance, the income tax exemption will be higher. If an employee earns more than £100,000, the income tax exemption will be lower.


National Insurance

Same as personal income tax, employers are obliged to deduct national insurance from wages before paying their wages and then pay them to the UK Government via PAYE.


The national insurance premium is paid to individuals who have reached the age of 16 and meet the following two conditions:

  • Employees earning more than £184 per week;
  • Self-employed earn £6,515 or more per annum.


Employees earning more than £184 a week and who are under the national pension age are subject to Type I state insurance, which is automatically deducted from wages by the employer. In the first category of national insurance, the amount required by the employer to withhold varies depending on the letter code of the employee's national insurance category. For the current tax year, the specific Category 1 national insurance rates are shown in the chart below:

Note that in the next tax year, from 6 April 2022 to 5 April 2023, the national insurance premium will increase by 1.25%, and the scope of the increase includes categories 1A and 1B national insurance.


In addition to withholding income tax and national insurance premiums from employees, employers are required to provide employees with pay slips on a monthly basis, indicating the breakdown of income tax and national insurance premiums deducted for the current month. Similarly, if the employer is not sure how each employee's pension, income tax and national insurance should be calculated, it is recommended that the employer seek the help of a professional accountant.

Immigration skills charge

When a sponsored employer provides a letter of sponsorship (COS) to an overseas employee applying for a Skilled Worker Visa or an Intra-company Transfer Visa, the employer is usually required to pay an immigration skills fee for the employee.


Generally speaking, employers are required to pay an immigration skills fee for overseas workers in the following two cases:

  • Overseas employees applying outside the UK for a work visa for more than 6 months;
  • Overseas employees applying within the UK for a work visa for any length.


However, if the overseas employee is applying for an in-house graduate trainee work visa, or if the overseas employee is converted from a student visa to a skilled worker visa or an internal personnel transfer work visa, the employer is not required to pay the immigration skills fee.


Also, if the employer is sponsoring overseas workers engaged in the following occupations, they are not required to pay the immigration skills fee.

  • Biological scientist and biochemist;
  • Physical scientist;
  • Social and humanities scientists;
  • Other natural and social science professionals;
  • Research and Development Manager;
  • Teaching professionals in higher education;
  • Clergy;
  • Sports athletes;
  • Sports coach, instructor or official.


The specific amount of immigration skills fees that employers need to pay is as follows:

Length of work for employees Small or charitable organisations Medium or large institutions
The first 12 months £364 £1000
For every 6 months extension £182 £500

In addition to the above-mentioned responsibilities, employers are obliged to provide maternity and annual leave to employees. Almost all workers are legally entitled to at least 28 days of paid leave (also known as annual leave) per year. However, employers can count Bank Holidays and public holidays (e.g. New Year's Day, Christmas, Easter, etc.) as part of statutory annual leave.


If you have questions about employer-related legal liabilities, please contact our Immigration and Employment Law team.

Considerations For Buying A Property Through Auction House

As well as traditional estate agents or developers selling in the United Kingdom, Auction House is one of the ways to buy and sell a property. Often smaller developers and individual investors in the UK are more keen on auctioning property, and there are often property auctions across the UK. During the pandemic has restricted offline home auctions, so online house auctions have sprung up virtually and attracted numerous investors.

Participating in a house auction requires the discernment to distinguish between the pros and cons. Some houses may seem cheap, but in fact they are layered with mines, and follow-up problems are continuous. However, looking at the positive side, there are also many buyers who can pick up a big bargain. At Chen Neill Solicitors, our experienced conveyancing solicitors suggest that if you want to buy a property through auction, you must do your homework in advance, including fully reading and studying the legal pack provided by the auctioneer, and be sure to conduct a site visit.

Recently, a client from Chen Neill Solicitors bid on a high-end property in London's zone 1, although the price of the auction was relatively cheap, the lease of the house was less than 10 years. In the space of two years, the seller of the property is already the third resale of the property, and the first two sellers have applied for an extension of leasehold and it was unsuccessful. The client agreed to buy the property without fully understanding the legal documents and without a detailed understanding of the lease of the property before bidding. The client encountered problems and could not regret it. Because the law stipulates that once the property at auction is decided to be auctioned, the buyer must purchase the property (Legally Binding), and the entire transaction process must be completed within 28 days.

In order to avoid the loss of buyers who are interested in participating in the house auction and buy the auction house of their choice at the right price, our property solicitors have summarised the following suggestions:

1 Read the legal package carefully

Auctioneers will generally provide buyers with a package of legal documents for the property before the auction begins – including title deeds, environmental investigation reports from local authorities, lists of fixtures and fittings, seller information sheets, and any rental information related to the property. The legal documents provided by auctioneers are quite important, and it is recommended that you ask a solicitor to take a closer look, as there may be hidden contractual terms or loopholes that only professionals can find, and these loopholes may cause you to pay more than your budget.

2 Field trips

Generally speaking, you can make an appointment to visit your property about a month before the auction starts. You can bring an experienced architect with you on your expedition to help you see some issues that you may not notice from a professional point of view. At the same time, if you have plans to renovate your house, the architect can also estimate the cost of a renovation. This way, you can take into account the cost of the renovation when bidding. You can also hire a chartered surveyor to measure and evaluate the property during the viewing, and some of the structural problems of the property itself cannot be viewed with the naked eye, and the appraisal report of the professional surveyor will play a great help when you measure the value of the property.

3 Funding provision

If you are prepared to buy in cash, it is recommended that you ask your conveyancer to check the source of funds in advance to ensure that the transaction is completed within 28 days of bidding. If you need to take out a mortgage to buy a property, you will need to discuss with your mortgage lender in advance to get the Mortgage in Principal. This way you know the maximum amount you can bid for at the auction. Please note that you only have 28 days (20 working days) to complete the transaction after the auction, and often the loan application takes more than 28 days, it is just as important to have the purchase funds ready in advance as the two factors mentioned earlier.

One final tip is to take out home insurance as once your offer has been accepted, you will be liable for any damage to the property until completion, it is advisable to take out an insurance policy to protect yourself in the event of any damage.

If you are interested in buying an auction property or need any legal advice on real estate, please contact our residential conveyancing team.