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Things to know about international divorce

Different countries and cultures often have very different rules around divorce. This means that if you are living abroad, or if you and your spouse are from different countries, or you married abroad, deciding to end your relationship can introduce a number of issues, above and beyond those involved in a normal divorce.

Where you can start divorce proceedings

Most people will tend to want to get married in the country where they currently live as this is usually the most convenient option. However, if you and your spouse are living in different countries, or have other specific reasons for wanting to start divorce proceedings in a different country, your options will depend on exactly where you want to initiate proceedings.

Scotland and Northern Ireland – the rules for divorce in Scotland and Northern Ireland are different than those in England and Wales, so if you choose to get divorced in another part of the UK, make sure to familiarise yourself with the local process.

Another EU country – Under EU law, you may be able to get divorced in another EU country from the one where you married. It is important to note that the EU has a ‘first in time’ system, which means that, whichever spouse initiates divorce proceedings, the country they do this in is where the divorce will go ahead.

Elsewhere in the world – If you and/or your spouse have a connection with a non-EU country, where you can get divorced will depend on various factors, including which country you both have the strongest connection with.

Financial settlements

The rules for financial settlements vary considerably between countries. In England and Wales, all assets owned by both parties must be declared and can be considered as part of the settlement.

However, under Scottish law, it is generally only assets owned or acquired during the marriage that will be considered. Elsewhere in the world, separating couples may be under no legal obligation to declare their financial assets, which can significantly affect the value of any financial settlement.

Legal status of pre-nuptial agreements

Pre-nuptial agreements are becoming more common, specifying how assets will be divided if a marriage ends. They are not legally binding in England and Wales, but will usually be considered by a judge as long as they are correctly prepared.

In Scotland, however, pre-nuptial agreements are considered legally enforceable. Rules in other countries vary considerably, from pre-nups being considered legally binding in some, to having absolutely no weight under the law in others.

What to do when considering an international divorce

If you are considering starting divorce proceedings in another country, or there are other issues, such as international assets to consider, it is strongly recommended to get expert legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Wherever possible, it is recommended to discuss the decision with your spouse before starting divorce proceedings as this is likely to make is easier to keep the process of getting divorced amicable.

Crisp & Co’s divorce solicitors in London and the South East have many years of experience helping people to get divorced quickly, cost-effectively and with minimal conflict, including when dealing with international divorce. Our sensitive but practical approach, focused on non-confrontational methods, makes getting divorced as straightforward as possible.

Talk to our expert international divorce lawyers now by calling 020 3797 4952 or use the enquiry form below and we will get back to you promptly.

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