Foreign Divorces Can Be Recognized

Foreign Divorces Can Be Recognized

The Sri Lankan Court of Appeal has ruled that foreign divorces can be recognized in Sri Lanka, even if the couple was married in Sri Lanka. This is a landmark decision that will affect many Sri Lankans who have married and divorced abroad.
The Court of Appeal said that the Sri Lankan Marriage Registration Ordinance does not limit the recognition of foreign divorces to courts in Sri Lanka. This means that a divorce obtained in a foreign court can be recognized in Sri Lanka if it is valid in the country where it was obtained.
The Court of Appeal also said that three guidelines must be met for a foreign divorce to be recognized in Sri Lanka:
Both parties must have been residing in the foreign country for a reasonable period of time when they applied for the divorce.
  • The foreign court must have had jurisdiction to hear the divorce case.
  • The foreign divorce decree must be valid in the foreign country.
  • The Court of Appeal’s decision is a major victory for Sri Lankans who have married and divorced abroad. It means that

they will no longer have to go through the lengthy and expensive process of obtaining a divorce in Sri Lanka, even if they are no longer living in the country.

This decision is also a positive development for Sri Lanka’s legal system. It shows that the Sri Lankan courts are willing to recognize the laws of other countries and uphold the rights of Sri Lankan citizens who live abroad.


Liyanage Champika Harendra Silva, a dual citizen of Sri Lanka and Britain, married Poorna Sewwandi Nagasinghe in Colombo in 2010. The couple later moved to England and divorced in the Family Court at Kingston-Upon-Thames in 2018. Silva subsequently sought recognition of the English divorce decree in Sri Lanka.


The Registrar General of Marriages of Sri Lanka, who denied Silva’s request to recognize the English divorce decree.
Poorna Sewwandi Nagasinghe is Silva’s former spouse.

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