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A Guide to International Divorce or Dissolution

If you are part of an international family unit, divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership can be complicated. When you have a connection to a country outside of the UK, or to a different part of the UK to where you currently reside, you may have considered starting divorce proceedings there. Choosing where to begin proceedings can also be challenging and you need a team of understanding and specialist international family lawyers to guide you.

We understand that you may have some questions and in this article, we look at how to choose where to start divorce proceedings, and how your choice affects both the process and the impact it may have on your financial settlement.

International divorce or dissolution proceedings

If you or your former partner chooses to begin divorce or dissolution proceedings outside of the country that you live in, your next steps will depend on where the proceedings have started.

How do I know where I should start divorce proceedings?

Working out where you can start divorce or dissolution proceedings can be complicated for many couples. We would always recommend taking advice on this matter from an experienced solicitor who will be able to advise you on both legal and practical matters. Factors which may have an impact on whether you can get divorced or dissolve a civil partnership in a particular country include where:

  • You or your partner were born
  • You own property in the country
  • Your parents were born
  • Your marriage or civil partnership was registered
  • You currently live or where you lived during your marriage or civil partnership

You should discuss your concerns with a solicitor, who will be familiar with the laws of the country in which you wish to begin proceedings. We would advise you to do this before negotiating or entering into mediation with your former partner, as you could risk losing control of where proceedings take place if they begin proceedings first.

Divorce or dissolution proceedings in the UK

Although proceedings may have started in the UK, the process for divorce or dissolution is slightly different across the UK. England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland all have different systems, and before beginning proceedings in a different part of the UK you will want to seek advice on the impact this may have on financial settlement.

Divorce or dissolution proceedings in the EU

You may have the legal right to divorce or dissolve your civil partnership in an EU country. Where this is the case, you should seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity as a result of the ‘first in time’ rule. The first in time system means that where the first person chooses to initiate proceedings is where the proceedings will take place. Where proceedings take place can have a huge impact on your financial settlement, so you must be mindful of this rule if you plan to divorce or dissolve your civil partnership.

Divorcing or dissolving your civil partnership in a non-EU country

If you or your partner have a connection to a non-EU country, you may be able to divorce or dissolve your civil partnership there. Law and process varies greatly across countries outside of the EU, so you should take advice from an experienced lawyer.

Does it matter where we choose to divorce or dissolve our civil partnership?

In short, yes. You will firstly need to ensure that you meet all of the legal requirements for divorce or dissolution in the country before considering the financial impact of the jurisdiction you choose. The process for divorce and dissolution and financial settlement rules vary greatly between jurisdictions. In many countries outside of the UK, partners are not required to disclose all of their assets as part of the process which could have a massive impact on the financial settlement awarded to each party.

Are prenuptial agreements enforceable?

Prenuptial agreements are still quite uncommon and are not legally enforceable in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, the court will take a prenuptial agreement into account as one of the circumstances of the case when making financial settlement decisions.

Contact Our Expert International Divorce and Dissolution of a Civil Partnership Solicitors

Our offices are based in the UK and are located in Manchester, London and Birmingham. Contact our specialist international family law team today on 0330 107 0107 or request a call back.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.

Publisher Details

Published by: Iwona Durlak

Senior Partner

Family Law

IMD Solicitors LLP

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