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International Issues

International Issues

Divorce Jurisdiction

There can often be more than one choice of country (jurisdiction) where a divorce can be started.   Divorce laws vary enormously from one country to another, we can provide clear advice on this complex area of law and help you to identify the possible countries that are able to entertain your divorce proceedings and which country provides the most favourable location for you.

What is involved?

The general principle in England and Wales is that jurisdiction can be granted if certain conditions as to domicile or habitual residence are met.  This means that it may be possible for foreign nationals as well as English ‘ex pats’ to divorce in England and Wales.

The possibility of divorcing elsewhere may arise through nationality, living or working overseas.  Deciding the right location to start proceedings will involve a consideration of jurisdictional requirements, the location of assets, the different costs and timescales involved and significantly how child care and financial settlements are decided.  This will often involve obtaining advice from lawyers internationally to help make the decision. 

Unlike England and Wales, some countries, for example exclude pre-marital wealth and inherited assets, some countries readily recognise pre-nuptial agreements.  Other countries have fixed periods or prescribed scales of child support and maintenance.  The cost of choosing the wrong location can be enormous.

The rules for EU member countries except Denmark have been harmonised which means that where more than one EU member country can deal with the divorce, the person who is ‘first past the post’ and validly claims jurisdiction by filing divorce proceedings in their preferred country will secure jurisdiction of that country to deal with the divorce.  The other person can do nothing about it.

Outside of the EU except Denmark, the ‘first past the post’ rule does not apply.  Whoever files proceedings first in their preferred country is still a relevant factor but the court can consider which country is better placed to deal with the divorce by considering, for example where the parties live and where the assets are located.

Why we are different

Time is of the essence when deciding the appropriate forum for your divorce.  Our divorce solicitors have considerable expertise in dealing with international family law cases and will provide swift and decisive help and support at every stage to ensure that you make the right choice for you and your family.

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