European Law is more generous in its approach to the consequences of the breakdown of a marriage/civil partnership for a person's immigration status than British Immigration Law. 

The British Immigration Rules require a relationship between partners to be "genuine and subsisting" in order that a person subject to Immigration Control continues to comply with the requirements of leave to remain as a partner.  By contrast, under European Law a spouse/civil partner remains "a family member" of an EEA National until such time as their marriage is terminated by divorce/dissolution of the partnership (this is assuming that in all other respects the EEA national is residing in the UK in such a way as to satisfy the residence requirements of European law).

The tricky question though is, what happens to the non-European partner's rights where they divorce from the EEA National?  Let us take an example:  An American National is married to a Polish National.  The marriage has lasted for three years and one year of that marriage has been spent in the United Kingdom.  Because of the length of the marriage and the length of residence in the United Kingdom, the American National can benefit from a retained right to reside under EU Law.  There is however one further requirement which, according to the UK Government the American national must meet in order that they can retain their right to reside.  The American national must prove that her Polish national spouse, had been exercising treaty rights in the United Kingdom at the time of their divorce i.e. - the Polish national must have been working, self-employed, self-sufficient or a job seeker/student in certain circumstances.  This requirement however is now the subject of a referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union by the Court of Appeal in NA v SSHD (AIRE Centre Intervening) [2014] EWCA CIV 995.  The UK Government's position was that a right cannot be retained on divorce if it did not exist at the date of divorce.  The argument made by, in that case the Pakistani national's representatives was that the retained right to reside should be interpreted in a purposive manner in order to avoid potential abuse by European Union citizens who perhaps have inflicted domestic violence on their non-European spouse or are attempting to get custody of children. A purposive approach could for example allow the non European national time to pursue divorce proceedings even though the EEA national has left the UK and still retain their right to reside.

The Court of Appeal has referred the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union and similarly the Irish High Court has made a referral.

Should your circumstances change whilst you are in possession of a Right to Reside under European Law, we would suggest that you obtain legal advice on the consequences of the change in your circumstances and whether you continue to retain those rights and the team at Drummond Miller would be very happy to assist.