From one country to another, the length of time a divorce takes and its financial implications can vary significantly. Yet most people assume they must get a divorce in the country they live in or where they married.
Sometimes when people have dual nationality they assume that they can choose as they please. This is not the case, and making the wrong decision about where and how to get divorced could, in some instances, mean the difference between the process taking years rather than months and mean you are left counting the cost.
Once you have made your decision, you may then be committed to deal with a whole range of other issues according to the law of the country you have chosen. Remember, you only get one chance when filing for divorce, so it’s important you make the right choices at the beginning. Brookman has been a leading expert in international divorce for many years, and we take great care in guiding our clients through the process to achieve the best outcome for them.
We are specialist international divorce lawyers and family solicitors and we advise clients who are either UK-based but originate from another country, or are living outside of the UK but have a connection with England or Wales.
We handle cases with connections all over the world, including:
|Europe & European Union||Canada and USA|
|India and Pakistan||China, Japan and wider Asia|
|Africa & South Africa||Australia and New Zealand|
|Middle East and Persian Gulf||Central and South America|
International Divorce: Financial Settlements
Different countries have very different financial outcomes in divorce. The UK is known to be flexible when it comes to division of property and spousal maintenance, whereas some countries work to fixed rules such as a percentage of the main earner’s income. Many have very restrictive rules. This range of approaches taken by different countries means that getting the jurisdiction right at the beginning is absolutely crucial. However, it is worth remembering that a court order is only effective in the county that made it. There may or may not be ways to enforce it elsewhere and it is important to consider this in advance. If the financial assets are elsewhere, the spouse may in some cases have a problem getting their share, so it’s always wise to seek legal advice to understand your options.
Children In International Divorce
Western countries have two primary principles with regard to children during a divorce:
- The welfare of the child is paramount and is assessed on a case-by-case basis
- The courts of the child’s country of ‘habitual residence’ are best placed to decide maters.
Complications often arise. For instance, a wife of a separated couple might want to take their children back to the UK from the marital home in continental Europe. However, as the children reside outside of the UK, the local courts should determine custody, but the current waiting time for such cases in some European Union countries is three years. In this situation, there may be an option to seek ‘temporary’ permission to leave the country until the final hearing.
What About Prenuptial Agreements And International Divorce?
In many parts of continental Europe and North America, premarital choice of law agreements or pre-nuptial agreements (‘prenups’) are often automatically enforceable if the parties divorce. Although prenups are not automatically binding in England, a judge is now likely to take a prenup into account. Various safeguards apply.
Why Do People Use UK Courts For International Divorce?
English divorce courts are usually in high demand from individuals based overseas. For British expats, there is the attraction of a familiar legal system and language. And although Family Courts in general face pressure, divorcing in England and Wales can, depending on the circumstances of your case, still be relatively efficient. Brookman are aware of the administrative pressures on a day-to-day basis and constantly seek the most efficient paths to a solution.
In addition, courts in London and other main British legal centres are known for their impartiality, incorruptibility, and determination to maintain “a level playing field” so that a litigant cannot use influence to assist their way to a favourable judgement. This explains why so many individuals go to great lengths to secure the UK as the decision-making venue for their divorce.
Take A Wise First Step
It is reported that approximately 15 per cent of UK marriages have a foreign element and that probably is true across much of the developed world. The impact that a jurisdiction can have on the divorce process, child custody and financial settlements can’t be underestimated. If you would like to discuss these issues before starting the divorce process please contact us.
Or call us: +44 (0)20 7430 8470