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Abandoned Spouses


Duncan Lewis International Family Law Solicitors – Abandoned Spouses


Divorce or custody cases where a spouse has been abandoned can be extremely distressing and complex, and requires the expertise of an international family law solicitor.


At Duncan Lewis our international family law solicitors have considerable expertise in handling cases of spousal abandonment, whether a spouse has been left stranded overseas or has been abandoned and left without maintenance or child support in the UK.


What is Spousal Abandonment?


Spousal abandonment is the deliberate abandonment of a spouse without the intention of returning. Circumstances of spousal abandonment vary enormously and our solicitors frequently handle cases that involve:

  • Spouses stranded overseas
  • Spousal abandonment involving military spouse
  • Spousal and children abandonment and seeking maintenance
  • Spousal abandonment involving forced marriage

Spouse abandonment may also involve cases of romance fraud, which is becoming increasingly more recognised in the UK courts and other jurisdictions.


In cases where the abandoned spouse is not a British national, there may be fewer available options and advice should be sought from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which may relate to the country where the abandoned spouse is stranded.


Spousal abandonment can be emotionally devastating and can cause complex legal and financial problems for both parties. It can also have an effect on any children who may also have been abandoned without child support.


Our international family law solicitors have a successful track record assisting and advising clients on all spousal abandonment related matters including divorce proceedings, re-entering the UK, protecting any children involved and romance fraud.


What Happens to Spouses Abandoned Outside UK Jurisdiction?


In cases where a spouse has travelled to a jurisdiction outside of the courts of England and Wales and has been abandoned without means to return to the UK, it is necessary to seek urgent legal advice in order to re-enter the UK.


In certain cases, the abandoned spouse may also be separated from their children. In these situations it may be possible to secure high court wardship orders to protect any children involved, and declaring the English courts to have jurisdiction in respect of decisions concerning the children.


Our international family law solicitors will take the appropriate legal action to protect any children who have been separated from the abandoned spouse and act to ensure the abandoned spouse can return to the UK.


How Can an Abandoned Spouse be Protected During Divorce Proceedings?


Often the spouse that abandons the other will instigate divorce proceedings whilst the abandoned spouse is stranded abroad. The abandoned spouse may even be accused of abandoning their family and used as grounds for divorce.


In these cases, it is important to apply to the court in the UK for a hearing to decide whether the allegations have any basis. This can include applying for a fact-finding hearing so that the allegations and the circumstances of the case can be examined by the court.


Our international family law solicitors act swiftly in these cases in order to protect the interests of the abandoned spouse.


What is Romance Fraud?


Romance fraud is where a marriage has been entered into by one party with the specific intention of defrauding their spouse and ultimately abandoning them.


Often the absent spouse will have waited until they obtained a British passport before withdrawing funds from their joint bank account and abandoning their spouse. Such cases may involve criminal charges if money or property has been taken unlawfully.  


In cases where a spouse has left the marital home and their whereabouts are unknown, the abandoned spouse can initiate divorce proceedings after two years on the grounds of desertion.


The parties must have lived apart continuously for two years and it will be necessary to prove that the abandoned spouse has been deserted by their partner.


Our international family law solicitors advise on cases where an international marriage has resulted in spousal abandonment in the UK or overseas, including those where there is a possibility the marriage constituted romance fraud.


Why choose Duncan Lewis International Family Law Solicitors?


Our international family law solicitors have a successful track record in advising clients on matters involving international spousal abandonment.


The Duncan Lewis Family department is ranked by The Legal 500 for its Family & Matrimonial work and includes members of both the Law Society Family Law Advanced Panel and the Law Society Children Law Panel.


We are one of the select number of firms in the UK that are on the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU) referral list, and the team also include a founding member of the Child Abduction Lawyers’ Association (CALA).


A number of our solicitors are also members of Resolution, a family law association committed to resolving family disputes and problems fairly and amicably. Many are listed on the Reunite website.


Collectively, our staff can speak over 60 languages and our international family solicitors have a network of affiliates overseas, making us well placed to advise on international adoption in different jurisdictions.


Duncan Lewis International Family Law Solicitors – Legal Aid and Fixed Fees for Abandoned Spouse Cases


How can I fund my abandoned spouse case?


Duncan Lewis Solicitors is the UK’s largest provider of legal aid services and may be able to offer clients in abandoned spouse cases legal aid if there is evidence of domestic abuse in a relationship in the previous 24 months.


Spouses subjected to domestic abuse are protected under the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004, and in some cases, by the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.


In spousal abandonment cases where clients are ineligible for legal aid, we offer a fixed fee arrangement which includes an initial assessment or interview.  Once the details of the case have been assessed, it is usually possible to offer a further fixed fee scale.

Taking legal advice early in cases involving spousal abandonment can be crucial for defending allegations and any counterclaim of spousal abandonment.


For expert legal advice on spousal abandonment cases, contact our International Family Law Solicitors in confidence on 033 3772 0409.


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