We live in an increasingly global world where it is very common for people from different home countries to marry or for couples to move abroad to live and work. However, when a couple decides to separate, international elements can make the process more complicated than many initially anticipate. Obtaining legal advice from an international divorce lawyer who understands these issues is essential.
If you need a divorce or civil partnership dissolution and there are international elements involved, we are on hand to assist. Our Bristol-based international divorce solicitors have in-depth experience of the issues that commonly affect international couples, including:
- Overseas assets such as property bought or inherited in other countries
- Arrangements for children, particularly where the parents live or want to live in different countries
- Spousal and child maintenance issues, for example, where one or both parties work for international businesses
It is vital to contact us as early on as possible after you and your partner have decided to separate because the country where the divorce proceedings start is vitally important. We have considerable experience working with individuals who have married non-UK nationals in ‘multi-jurisdiction’ divorce cases.
We are happy to discuss flexible meeting arrangements with you to ensure that we are able to provide the best possible customer service, even if you are living overseas. This could involve arranging video calls, communicating primarily over email, or ensuring we are available to meet you when you are in the UK.
The international divorce process
What country should you apply for divorce in?
International divorce can get very complicated so do not worry if you are confused. Divorce law is different in every country so the country you choose to start the process in is vital. Typically, you do not have to get divorced in the same country you got married in. However, the UK divorce system tends to be relatively fast and cheap compared to some other jurisdictions; from Autumn 2021, the UK is also introducing ‘no-fault’ divorce which will make the process even faster.
When getting a divorce or dissolution, you need to consider:
- What countries you are able to apply for divorce or dissolution in
- If you have a choice of more than one country, which country is likely to give you the best outcome
Generally speaking, you can get a divorce in a certain country if:
- That country recognises your marriage. For example, if you are in a same-sex marriage, you probably cannot get a divorce in a country where same-sex marriage is not legal
- You and/or your former partner have a connection with that country, such as:
- One of you is a national of that country
- You are a resident in that country
We can provide advice about the process of getting divorced in the UK to help you assess whether that would be right for you in your individual circumstances.
International divorce and finances
The outcome of your financial settlement will be determined by the country in which you divorce. In the UK, financial arrangements are based on what is fair for both parties rather than an automatic 50-50 split like in some other jurisdictions. Therefore, if you are in a position where your former partner is the primary earner, a UK divorce could benefit you.
We can help you negotiate a fair financial settlement that allows you to move on with your life in financial security. We can help you take into account all available financial resources, including overseas property and income. We can also help you apply to court for a range of financial orders where you and your partner cannot come to a voluntary decision. We are able to advise in even the most complex of situations, such as:
- Cases involving high value overseas assets
- Allegations of parties hiding income or assets overseas for the purposes of depriving their partner in the divorce – in these cases, it may be beneficial to instruct a forensic accountant and obtain a freezing/injunction to prevent assets from being transferred or disposed of
- Pension related court orders, such as pension sharing orders where the divorce proceedings are primarily being dealt with overseas
- Child maintenance agreements where the ‘paying’ parent lives and works overseas
International arrangements for children
When an international couple with children divorces it can be very tempting for the parties to return to their country of birth, either temporarily or permanently, where they may have a wider support network of family and friends.
However, one parent cannot simply take the children overseas without the consent of the other parent or an order from the court and taking the children anyway could be child abduction. Any country that is a member of The Hague or European Conventions on Child Abduction will cooperate with the UK courts to return the child.
We can provide advice about the legal position if you want to take your children abroad or your former spouse has or is planning to take them overseas against your wishes. We can also provide advice about seeking or agreeing child maintenance payments for parents and/or children who live overseas.
Why choose our international divorce lawyers?
We are members of the Law Society Family Law and Children Law accreditation schemes for our expertise in all types of family law matter, including divorce, civil partnership dissolution, finances upon separation and arrangements for children.
Our divorce lawyers are also members of Resolution, an organisation of family law professionals who specialise in non-confrontational methods of dispute resolution. Wherever possible, we will help you avoid court proceedings and find a positive solution to the issues that arise during divorce proceedings.
Henriques Griffiths is independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).