International marriage in Ukraine


Oksana Voynarovska

Partner, Attorney-at-Law

Labour and Employment,
Private Client and Wealth Management

In Ukraine every 15th registered marriage is international. In this regards, Oksana Voinarovska reviewed the peculiarities of international marriages and divorces from the Ukrainian law perspective.

Intrastate international marriage

As majority of European countries, Ukraine recognizes only state marriages officially registered in local authorities. Herewith, religious marriage and civil partnership are out of legal regulation.

Also, Ukraine does not permit same-sex and third-gender marriages.

In Ukraine, international couples, foreigners are free to enter into marriage. But foreigners must previously provide a document about their legal stay in Ukraine, as well as a document confirming their ‘’no marriage status’’ in the home country.

After marriage, under D-type visa the foreigner may apply for a Ukrainian temporary residence permit. Following two years thereof a permanent residence permit and Ukrainian citizenship are available.

Interstate international marriage

Ukrainian citizens may register their marriages outside Ukraine. In case of adherence to all Ukrainian law requirements on invalidity of wedlock, an ‘’overseaes’’ marriage is considered valid in Ukraine. 

Interstate marriage between foreigners are valid in Ukraine if they observe applicable foreign legislation and do not violate Ukrainian public order (same-sex, third-gender, polygamy marriages).

Herewith, there is no need to repeatedly register foreign marriages in Ukraine. Apostille or consular legalization on a marriage certificate will suffice. 

Intrastate international divorce

In Ukraine there are two options for marriage dissolution. Non-judicial divorce takes place in a state civil registry office upon the mutual consent of childfree spouses. Otherwise, a divorce is heard in court sessions under the couple’s amicable application or upon a suit of one of the spouses. 

Ukrainian legislation does not limit the grounds for marriage dissolution. A simple willingness of one of the spouses to separate will be enough. However, the spouses may not divorce in Ukraine during the wife’s pregnancy and until the child turns 1. 

Jurisdiction issues are covered by the Law of Ukraine ‘’On international private law’’. Thus, Ukrainian courts may consider divorce of Ukrainian citizens residing abroad, as well as divorce of a Ukrainian and a foreigner residing abroad. In this case the Supreme Court is to decide on the authorized local court. Divorce in Ukraine is also possible if the spouses amicably choose Ukrainian jurisdiction or if the defendant resides in Ukraine. 

As a general rule, applicable law on divorce is the common personal law of the spouses. Otherwise, Ukrainian courts apply the law of the state of the last couple’s common residence if at least one of the spouses still resides there. The additional option is the law of the closest connection. 

If the spouses fail to have common personal law, they may choose the personal law of one spouse as appliable law. Herewith, the choice of law must be in writing. 

Interstate international divorce

Interstate divorce is valid in Ukraine if the foreign civil registry extract is duly legalized/apostilled. In case of judicial marriage dissolution, there must be an exequatur procedure. Such a procedure stands for the due recognition of foreign divorce decisions hold in front of a Ukrainian judge.

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