Yes, it’s possible to get a financial order in the UK after a foreign divorce. But the process tends to be complex and uncertain. Whether or not you’ll succeed in your application depends on several factors, including:

  • The laws of the country where the divorce was granted
  • Your connection to England and Wales
  • The assets involved
  • Any agreements or orders already in place

Here we look at the relevant procedure under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 (MFPA) which enables someone to seek a UK financial order even if the divorce has been finalised abroad. We also consider the 2024 Supreme Court’s decision in the long-running case of Potanina v Potanin. The ruling suggests that it might well be more difficult to successfully pursue applications under Part III in future.

Why Do People Apply For A UK Financial Order?

Forum shopping is where those seeking the most advantageous financial settlement issue proceedings in the jurisdiction they believe will look most favourably on their situation. The courts in England and Wales are seen around the word as being more generous towards financially weaker spouses when it comes financial settlements. In most cases a UK judge only makes a financial order when the divorce takes place in England and Wales. However, in some cases it is possible to ask the English courts to change a foreign financial order. Financially weaker spouses have an incentive therefore to seek a UK judge’s review of an overseas financial ruling if they are dissatisfied with it.

Making An Application Under Part III

Anyone wishing to apply under Part III for a financial remedy in England and Wales where there has been a foreign divorce must first seek the leave (permission) of the court to do so. Courts will grant permission for the application to proceed to a full hearing if the applicant has a substantial or  solid basis for doing so. The courts will only be able to entertain an application under Part III if:

  • At least one spouse was domiciled in England and Wales at the date of the foreign divorce or on the date of asking for permission to make a Part III application; or
  • Either of the parties to the marriage was habitually resident in England and Wales for a year before the application; or
  • Either party owned a residential property in England and Wales for one year before the application for permission to make a Part III application.

A key characteristic of the application to seek permission for a Part III hearing is that it is made ex parte. That’s to say the applicant does not need to notify the other spouse. If leave is granted, it is only then that the respondent spouse becomes aware that the other spouse is seeking a UK financial remedy order.

At this point it is open to the respondent spouse to ask the court to revoke or ‘set aside’ the permission the other spouse has obtained to make a formal Part III application. Until the Supreme Court decision in Potanina v Potanin in 2024 it was believed that the hurdle to set aside the permission was an extremely high one to overcome. The respondent needed to produce a ‘knockout blow’ to the other spouse’s case to get the permission set aside. The Potanin decision appears to lower that bar.

Supreme Court Decision In Potanin v Potanina 2024

The Potanin case involves the divorce of a Russian billionaire.  It made its way through the courts for a number of years before the Supreme Court was asked by the husband to revoke the wife’s permission to make a Part III application. In a significant ruling the court said that:

‘Rule one for any judge dealing with a case is that, before you make an order requested by one party, you must give the other party a chance to object’.

The court was clear that the practice of forcing respondent spouses in these cases to provide a compelling or ‘knockout blow’ was contrary to this important ‘Rule one’ principle. As we have seen permission is granted in Part III applications without the court hearing any arguments from the respondent (usually the financially stronger spouse).


The Supreme Court’s decision in Potanin suggests that the practice of insisting on the benchmark of a ‘knockout blow’ had grown up out of a series of misunderstandings. This had, the court felt, resulted in a procedure that was fundamentally unfair. In fact the correct approach in applications to set aside permission should be to require the spouse wishing to benefit from a Part III application to again show – this time in front of his or her spouse – why they should have permission to proceed to a full Part III hearing.

In practice we think this could send a signal that the UK courts will be less likely to entertain any application to relitigate a foreign financial order.

Got a question? Ask us now…

Kindly complete the form below to send an enquiry. Your message will be sent to one of our solicitors. Discretion is guaranteed.

Your Information

  • Consider including information such as: the name of your spouse (if relevant), the country you live in, the background to your problem.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Over 2000 FREE
consultations and counting…

Our free consultation can help you more clearly understand the legal issues relating your case and what your options are to move forward.

Request your free consultation

Or send us an enquiry

I recently had a one hour pro bono consultation with Samantha Jago. I was really blown away by how much she was able to digest in such a short period of time and even more so by the report which I received shortly after.

Apr 2024   S DF

I had applied for a free consultation and I was contacted in a very short timeframe. Thank you so much for the insightful and thorough consultation, Kevin Danagher. You made me feel at ease and you provided clear expectations with the initial info I had provided... I have now a much better understanding on my query.

Feb 2024   Sonia Accardi

We had a very useful first consultation with Amber Matheson today. Amber took the time to understand our (somewhat complicated) set-up, and offered good, understandable advice on next steps. She followed up with a very thorough email clarifying what we had discussed. Highly recommended.

Feb 2024   Lucie

Lovely friendly experience. All questions were answered so that I understood completely.

Dec 2023   Ali Catlin

Very balanced, fair and pragmatic advice. Thoroughly recommend!!

Nov 2023   James Elliott

Henry graciously provided his time for a consultation. I found him to be highly knowledgeable, empathetic and he provided excellent advice which put my mind at ease. Would highly recommend Henry and his firm.

Oct 2023   Allan Ang

Henry Brookman went above and beyond during the free consultation, and even overran the allocated time. He provided invaluable professional advice in a courteous manner. I recommend his firm without reservation.

Sep 2023   Mario Ignatov

I only had my initial free review with Amelia yet I already feel much more strengthened in my legal and financial position. I am currently reflecting on the steps I want to take to negotiate my desired outcome of the financial settlement but, when I am ready to use the services of a lawyer, Amelia is definitely the top on my list.

Sep 2023   Nahid Toubia

I had a zoom consultation with Lauren Moir and she was incredible. Very patient, insightful and reassuring. She also advised me based on my previous conversations with another firm and also clarified various positions I am in. Highly recommend.

Aug 2023   Gary Hawes

I was very impressed with the friendly, helpful and professional service offered by Brookman Solicitors. The generous advice and knowledge offered during the initial free consultation has enabled us to have a much better understanding of our case and plan a way forward.

Jul 2023   Peter Jackson

I had a first consultation with Kevin, who very diligently and professionally provided an exhaustive overview of the divorce process and the best approach for my specific case.

Jul 2023   Giulia Matteo

Great service and excellent advice at the initial consultation. I would certainly recommend and use in the future.

Jul 2023   Tom James

Spoke to a kind solicitor this morning who took an hour of her time to talk me through some advice relating to a difficult separation.... She was clear and helpful with her advice, leaving me feeling much more confident with the process ahead of me.

Jun 2023   Luke Taylor

Mr Brookman provided very clear advice that left me with no doubt about the options and next steps. Getting specific advice with the requirements in the different jurisdictions was particularly useful so I won’t need to consult another lawyer outside of the UK

May 2023   Julian Anthony

Google Reviews
Ask A Question

Contact Us

If you have questions, contact us now, we can help you.

Enquire Now

Or call us on +44 (0)20 7430 8470