Choosing the Right Jurisdiction for your Divorce

International families who have a connection to more than one country may have a choice of jurisdictions in which to divorce.

England & Wales, with its reputation for making large financial awards, has long been a jurisdiction of choice for the financially weaker spouse, so it may be beneficial to one party if the proceedings were in another country.

For this reason, securing jurisdiction for your divorce can be hotly contested.

It is important to gain timely legal advice so that you can assess your situation before you make a decision, or it is made for you.

If I got married abroad, do I have to get divorced in the same country?

No. English family courts can deal with marriages which took place anywhere in the world as long as there is sufficient connection with England or Wales. Factors that will be considered include which countries you and your spouse have been resident, your nationalities and your legal domicile.

If I got married in England, but I no longer live there, does my divorce have to be in England?

No. The English family courts can deal with your divorce if there is still sufficient connection to this country, but the courts of other countries may also be able to deal with the divorce and related financial matters.

How do I decide where to issue family court proceedings?

First, you will need to establish in which countries proceedings could be issued. You should then consider the likely outcomes if proceedings took place in that country, including the timetable and procedure as well as the likely financial settlement, any arrangements for children, legal costs and whether the divorce and related agreements will be recognised in the various countries with which you have connections.

Each jurisdiction has its own approach to the division of property and other assets including pensions and trusts, as well as different attitudes towards maintenance and children.

You should consider the whole picture before deciding which jurisdiction is right for you.

Can divorce proceedings started in one country be transferred to another?

Yes, the English court can and will transfer the entire, or part of, proceedings to another country if that country is better placed to deal with the issues of the case. However, it is not possible to transfer divorce proceedings within the European Union, so it is important to take fast legal action to ensure your divorce begins in the jurisdiction most favourable to you.

Speed is of the essence when forum shopping, but it is equally important to ensure you have strong jurisdictional grounds as the consequences of not doing so can be very expensive.

Legal Advice

For further advice, arrange a confidential meeting with one of our international child custody lawyers. Call us on +44 (0)20 7993 2936 or complete a contact form.

Filed Under: Insight

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