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Immigration Law and Family

Sometimes the breakdown of a relationship can affect your right to stay in the UK. Dutton Gregory's Immigration solicitors work with the Family department to provide expert advice on your status and on any protective steps you might need to take.

Some categories of visa or leave to remain for family members depend on a "sponsor". The sponsor is usually a British citizen, or a person with indefinite leave to remain in the UK. There are also separate rules for family members of nationals of states in the European Economic Area ("EEA").

Immigration Rules

If you are in the UK under Part 8 or Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules as the spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner of a British settled person, then your permission to be in the UK depends on your being in a "subsisting relationship" with your sponsor.

If you separate, then the relationship is no longer subsisting, and the Home Office could curtail your leave to remain in the UK. It is unlawful to stay in the UK after your permission has expired, and "overstaying" could affect your ability to work or find accommodation.

There are schemes in place for separating partners who have suffered domestic violence, or who have children in the UK. You may also have other grounds to stay in the UK under Human Rights legislation.

European Residence Rights

If you are in the UK as a family member of an EEA national, then you need to be aware of your rights, and how to prove them. Residence rights for spouses or civil partners are very strong: they continue until a relationship is formally dissolved rather than depending on whether it is subsisting.

Even after divorce, many people have a "retained" right of residence. This might be based on the duration of the marriage and the length of time the parties have spent in the UK, or on the existence of children of the marriage and contact arrangements made for them.

However, your rights may also depend on the status of your ex-partner. This can present difficulties for people who have separated but do not know the whereabouts of their ex-partner.

Taking Advice

It is important to take advice about your situation as soon as possible so that you protect your status in the UK. We can help you make the right applications to the Home Office, and ensure that any other agencies involved are aware of the law that supports you.


1. Divorce this is where a couple end their marriage legally and once a Decree of Absolute of divorce is pronounced they are free to remarry if they wish.

2. Judicial Separation - this is rare: the parties are no longer obliged to live with each other, but they are not free to remarry.