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International Divorce & Jurisdictional

Duncan Lewis International Family Law Solicitors - International Divorce & Jurisdiction Issues


Often people can secure a Divorce in more than one country and it is vital to get advice very early on as to how jurisdiction can be established in a country, particularly as jurisdiction is very often time sensitive. 


There can be a race for one party to issue a Divorce in their country of choice, before the other party, as generally, the court that is first seized of jurisdiction will deal with the Divorce.


Further expert advice is necessary in order to decide which jurisdiction is the most advantageous, as jurisdiction can impact upon financial arrangements and future financial security. As such, it is crucial to apply for a Divorce in the jurisdiction which can offer you the most protection in a Divorce settlement, and protect your property and financial assets. Taking legal advice on where to apply for an international Divorce is imperative due to the complex differences in Divorce and family law between jurisdictions.


From 1 January 2021, Brussels lla Regulation no longer applies to England and Wales.


For cases instituted on or after 1 January 2021, the above grounds for jurisdiction are varied by regulation 7 and paragraph 7 of the Schedule to the Regulations:

  1. both parties to the marriage are habitually resident in England and Wales
  2. both parties to the marriage were last habitually resident in England and Wales and one of them continues to reside there
  3. the respondent is habitually resident in England and Wales
  4. the applicant is habitually resident in England and Wales and has resided there for at least one year immediately before the application was made
  5. the applicant is domiciled and habitually resident in England and Wales and has resided there for at least six months immediately before the application was made
  6. both parties to the marriage are domiciled in England and Wales; or
  7. either of the parties to the marriage is domiciled in England and Wales


Sole domicile has been added to the primary grounds.


It is only necessary to be habitually resident on the day the proceedings were issued, provided there was ordinary residence for the prior 6 or 12 months, as applicable.


The requirement of only habitual residence on the day of issue makes it possible to bring more proceedings in England and Wales


For proceedings instituted on or after 1 January 2021, whether a divorce is recognised will depend on whether the corresponding EU country is a signatory to the 1970 Hague Divorce Recognition Convention Where they are not a signatory, recognition will depend upon the domestic laws of that country.


From 1 January 2021, the ’first in time’ rule is no longer decisive, although the courts in England and Wales can exercise a discretion to stay proceedings if there are proceedings taking place in another jurisdiction. 


Some of the main international Divorce matters likely to involve jurisdictional issues include:

  • Child custody and support
  • Division of property
  • Financial settlements
  • Inheritance, wills and trusts
  • Life assurance
  • Maintenance payments
  • Pensions entitlement
  • Sharing joint assets (property, investments)
  • Tax arrangements


What are the differences between jurisdictions?


Differences between jurisdictions can vary enormously. Some jurisdictions for example, will apply Divorce law relating to the country of the non-native partner in a Divorce case, which depending on the jurisdiction in question, may be beneficial or disadvantageous.


There will almost always be a residency requirement in applying for a Divorce in a particular jurisdiction. Establishing residency rights can be highly complex, especially if one or both parties travel frequently or conduct business overseas and spend a large proportion of their time abroad.


Child contact, residence, and inheritance are also more complex in cases involving international Divorce and require expert legal advice and assistance. Since laws between different jurisdictions can change over time, taking up-to-date legal advice from a specialist international family law Solicitor is vital to ensure future financial security as well as the security and inheritance of any current or future children.


Why choose Duncan Lewis International Family Law Solicitors?


Our international family law solicitors have a successful track record in advising clients on International Divorce and jurisdictional issues.


The team works closely with our highly successful child care, housing, immigration and litigation departments and can also advise on international Divorce and jurisdictional issues.


In cases involving contested international Divorce, our international family law solicitors can advise on alternatives to court action, including dispute resolution and lawyer supported family mediation.


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.


How can I fund my International Divorce?


We offer an initial client meeting with a fixed fee for legal advice on international Divorce involving jurisdictional issues.


We advise clients who are considering ending an international marriage to get in touch as soon as possible for an assessment of their case. Taking legal advice early in relation to Divorce or separation in an international marriage can help focus on the practicalities and make the process as stress-free as possible. 


For expert legal advice on international divorce and jurisdictional issues, contact our International Family Law Solicitors in confidence on 033 3772 0409.


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