Divorce and Separation



When a couple separates abroad the problems, especially for the spouse, are much more difficult to solve than for a comparable couple living steadily in a familiar environment in the home country.

The actual situation is: whatever problem arises that has to be solved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) can only be solved via the MFA Officer as there is no legal relationship between the MFA and the spouse. This causes many difficulties.

The main problems in this context that the spouse has to face are:

  • Payment of the removal and return flight
  • Receiving financial support from the MFA directly into his/her account

Problems the spouse has to face when returning home:

  • Resettlement back home
  • Finding a job after his/her career has been interrupted several times over the years in order to earn a living and to pay into a pension fund
  • Possibly being responsible for the resettlement of the couple’s children

Foreign born spouses (FBS) have additional problems like:

  • Obtaining the citizenship of MFA Officer’s home country
  • Obtaining a work permit
  • Lack of language skills
  • Recognition of diplomas
  • Health insurance.
  • Pension rights



In workshops during annual conferences, EUFASA recommended what MFAs could do to facilitate the situation abroad for spouses/partners and families to stabilize the family life abroad:

  • Offer language courses for the whole family
  • Make post reports accessible for spouses/partners
  • Offer Pre-Posting seminars
  • Allowing spouses to participate in the prior decision making process
  • Allowing the spouse to contact the MFA directly

Produced a report: Divorce, EUFASA Conference, Dublin 2004

The presentation was an evaluation of the results of a questionnaire sent to EUFASA member associations. The report gives an overview of the best practice in EU countries and demonstrates very clearly that the interpretation of what ‘Duty of Care’ means varies enormously according to the different MFAs.



Each association should lobby in their own MFA for:

  • Direct communication of information between the MFA and the accompanying spouse
  • Each MFA should install a family office and a psychological service, accessible to the whole family if necessary
  • The MFA should offer special information for FBS after separation
  • The return flight home should be paid by the MFA
  • Removal expenses should be paid by the MFA
  • As long as the divorce is not legal the allowances for the spouse and, if relevant, the children should be paid into the account of the spouse