The Court of Appeal in Sri Lanka has ruled that when a couple married in Sri Lanka obtains a divorce in a foreign court, the divorce is valid under Sri Lankan law. The decision overturns the previous requirement for couples divorced in foreign courts to undergo a second divorce process in a Sri Lankan district court.
The ruling resulted from a petition filed by Liyanage Champika Harendra Silva, a dual citizen of Sri Lanka and England. Silva had sought an order from the Registrar General of Marriages to accept his divorce obtained in an English court.
Silva had married Ms. Poorna Sevwandi Nagasinghe in Sri Lanka in 2010 and later moved to England. When their marriage broke down, both parties filed for divorce in separate courts—the Kaduwela District Court in Sri Lanka and the Kington Family Court in England.
Upon learning of Nagasinghe’s divorce filing in the English court, Silva withdrew the case in the Kaduwela District Court. The Crington Family Court in England granted the divorce, and Silva later remarried in Thailand in 2019.
In 2021, Silva requested the Registrar General of Sri Lanka to recognize the English divorce. The Registrar General refused, stating that the divorce should be obtained from a court in Sri Lanka. Silva filed a writ petition in the Court of Appeal challenging the Registrar General’s decision.
The Court of Appeal held that a divorce granted in a foreign country could be accepted as valid in Sri Lanka. The court emphasized that the Divorce Law did not specify that the court must be located in Sri Lanka. As a result, the divorce declared by the Kington Family Court in England was deemed valid in Sri Lanka.