People are living increasingly international lifestyles, spouses within a marriage may be nationals of different countries, or have assets and business interests overseas. As such, when their marriage breaks down, they may be entitled to seek a divorce in more than one country. It is particularly important when thinking about ending a marriage with an international element, to seek early advice from an experienced family law solicitor.  

Before issuing a divorce in any country, it is vital to (i) establish which jurisdiction is likely to be best for you, and (ii) find out the criteria you need to establish in order to both make and retain your application in that country.  Early advice is particularly important in these cases, as B P Collins’ family team advises, because they tend to be much more time sensitive and tactical, as shown by the recent high-profile separation of Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas.  

There can often be a race between each party to issue divorce proceedings and establish jurisdiction in their chosen country. The country in which divorce proceedings are issued often goes on to determine the financial split between the parties. However, this is not always the case and when considering the question of jurisdiction and whether another country is better placed to decide matters, the courts of England & Wales apply a test to decide where the most appropriate forum is to decide matters. A wide range of criteria is considered in this test, in order to establish which country the parties have the ‘closest connection’ with, to include where assets are held and where the parties’ children live and attend school.  

There can be very large differences between different jurisdictions when it comes to family law (both in relation to finances on separation and child arrangements) – for example, some of the differences between England & Wales vs Scotland are very significant. It is important to seek family law advice in all the countries that are likely to have jurisdiction in order to help you decide which one will be the most beneficial for you.  

It is also important to take financial advice from appropriate specialists when international assets are concerned as there may be remittance and tax issues that have to be considered and could influence the decision.   

If you are considering ending an international marriage, it is advisable to get in touch as soon as possible with B P Collins’ family team, which can also work closely with B P Collins’ immigration team to establish residency rights, if required. Please email or call 01753 889995 for further information and advice.

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Laura Thumb
Laura Mortimer
Practice Group Leader

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