What is the procedure for unilateral divorce for people who are abroad?

Today, there are a large number of Vietnamese living and working in many countries around the world. So how to implement unilateral divorce procedures for people who are abroad?

Legal grounds:

– 2014 Law on Marriage and Family.
– 2015 Civil Procedure Code.
– Official Letter No. 253/TANDTC-PC.

People who are in foreign countries will not be allowed to authorize divorce


According to Article 3 of the 2014 Law on Marriage and Family, divorce is the termination of a marriage relationship under a legally valid judgment or decision.

In particular, Vietnamese law will resolve the divorce between Vietnamese citizens and foreigners, between foreigners permanently residing in Vietnam, and between Vietnamese citizens who do not have a commonplace of permanent residence. 
In case Vietnamese citizens do not permanently reside in Vietnam, the divorce settlement shall comply with the law of the place where they are permanently residing. 


Article 83 of the 2015 Civil Procedure Code stipulates that litigants are not allowed to authorize other people to act on their behalf in the process of divorce according to Vietnamese law.

Besides, according to Clause 2, Article 51 of the 2014 Law on Marriage and Family, a parent, or other relative has the right to request a court to settle a divorce if the following two conditions are met:

– A spouse has a mental illness or other illness that is not able to perceive and control his / her behavior.
– This person is also a victim of domestic violence (caused by the other person) that seriously affects his life, health, and spirit.
As such, both parties must be directly involved in the divorce and cannot authorize others to act on their behalf. Except for the case of a parent, relative who is the representative as prescribed in Clause 2, Article 51 of the 2014 Law on Marriage and Family.

Three critical things when unilateral divorce with people who are abroad


When the marriage life is in serious condition, and the purpose of the marriage is not achieved, one party may request a divorce. However, when the spouse is abroad, what is the procedure for unilateral divorce?

1. Court has jurisdiction to settle divorce

According to Clause 3, Article 35 of the 2015 Civil Procedure Code, when divorce cases have litigants or property abroad, the District People’s Court has no jurisdiction to resolve. Then, according to Article 37 of the 2015 Civil Procedure Code, the Provincial People’s Court has the authority to fix it.

Therefore, when a person is abroad, the person who wants to request a divorce must file the documents with the Provincial People’s Court.

2. Records for unilateral divorce

To be divorced quickly, the person who asks for divorce must prepare all the following documents and papers:

– Unilateral divorce application (contact us for a sample);
– Certificate of marriage registration (if lost, must submit a copy of it);
– Identity Card or Passport; Household Registration Book; Documents proving that a party is abroad (if any);
– Papers and documents on common property of husband and wife (if any).

3. When there is no address of someone who is abroad


Through judicial practice, there are many divorce cases where the plaintiff can only provide the address of the other’s last residence in Vietnam (no address currently abroad). Therefore, the Supreme People’s Court issued Official Letter 253, providing specific guidance as follows:

– If through the defendant’s relative, the address and information of the defendant is still unknown, in this case, the defendant is considered to have deliberately concealed the address, refused to declare and provide necessary documents;

– If the court orders the second time and the defendant’s relative still fails to offer and informs the defendant’s address, the court will bring the case to trial in absentia according to general procedures;

– After the hearing, the court will immediately send a copy of the sentence or decision to the defendant’s relative so that he or she can send it to the defendant;

– Publicly post a copy of such judgment or verdict at the People’s Committee of the commune where the defendant’s last residence (also the place where the defendant’s relative resides) so that the litigant can exercise the right to appeal by the law.

The above is a detailed guide on divorce procedures when there are Vietnamese living abroad. For the divorce to proceed smoothly and quickly, it is advisable to prepare sufficient documents, papers, and conditions according to the above analysis.

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