Insights

International Divorce – Know Before You Go


31/05/2013

The number of international family legal disputes is on the rise, and they can prove to be very difficult to deal with. Family law expert Anna Wagstaff offers some advice.

Moving overseas – whether it’s for work or to pursue a new relationship – can be daunting. There is the fear of the unknown, a different way of life and culture, not to mention the logistical arrangements that need to be put in place.
Some couples find that living abroad can put an additional strain on their relationship and cross-cultural marriages often come with their own distinct set of challenges.

In some cases the relationship breaks down altogether, and the ramifications in terms of separation and divorce can be complex for the international family.

These will include the arrangements for your children, the financial settlement you can expect to receive upon divorce and where you should initiate divorce proceedings.

As people are able to move across borders with growing ease, the number of truly international families is increasing rapidly. Perhaps it is no surprise that the number of international family legal disputes is also on the increase. It therefore pays to be prepared in the event that your move overseas does not work out as you had both hoped.

Prepare and review pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements

While considered by some to be unromantic, pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements enable couples to determine how they wish their financial affairs to be dealt with in the event that their relationship breaks down. The agreement can identify the court that the couple wish to deal with their divorce and which law should be applied. The weight given to a pre-nuptial agreement will vary from country to country. It is therefore essential to seek advice as to the impact of the agreement in the country you are moving to as well as any other country to which either of you has a connection.

Be aware of jurisdictional issues

There may be a choice of jurisdiction in which divorce proceedings can be issued. Within the EU, a member state will be competent to deal with the divorce if the couple are both nationals of that state – or in the case of England and Ireland are domiciled there – and/or either or both of them are resident there. This may be subject to a minimum period of residence in some cases.

Gordon Dadds