Question No: 121 Ref No: 3313/14

To ask the Minister for Social Protection if the different types of divorce available in China are recognised in Irish law; the documentation required by the General Register’s Office for each of these divorces to register to marry in the Irish state, particularly those which are reached through mediation in China; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Anthony Lawlor.

* For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 23rd January, 2014.


Recognition of non-EU foreign divorces is governed by the Domicile and Recognition of Foreign Divorces Act, 1986. Section 5 of the Act provides that a foreign divorce is recognised if granted in the country where either spouse was domiciled at the date of the institution of the proceedings for divorce.

The Registrar General is the statutory officer responsible for the system of marriage registration in the State. I have made enquiries of the Registrar General and I understand that persons intending to marry in the State must give three months’ notice of intention to marry and provide the registrar with evidence as to forename, surname, address, marital status, age and nationality. If a party to an intended marriage is divorced that person is required to provide a court certified copy of the final divorce decree. If the divorce was granted in a non-EU foreign jurisdiction they must provide evidence that the rules regarding the recognition of foreign divorces set out in the 1986 Act are satisfied, that is, that one of the parties to the divorce had a domicile in that jurisdiction at the relevant time. Where one of the parties to the divorce had a domicile of origin in the jurisdiction which granted the divorce, evidence of domicile is normally satisfied by the production of a birth certificate and a statement by way of affidavit that the person in question continues to reside in that jurisdiction. If the person left their domicile of origin and moved to another jurisdiction they may acquire a domicile of choice. The acquisition of a domicile of choice can be difficult to prove and each case is examined on its own merits.

I understand from the Registrar General that the position in relation to divorces granted in China is that once they are granted by a court they are potentially recognisable in the State, providing the rules relating to domicile can be satisfied and that a Chinese divorce involving mediation as part of a court process is similarly potentially recognisable.