Case study - international divorce

This is an example of the work we do for our clients. Caroline and Pierre are based on an amalgamation of some of our clients.

Caroline came to see us following the breakdown of her marriage to Pierre. Caroline and Pierre were both French citizens, but were living in England because of Pierre's job. Caroline and Pierre had two children, Alice and Thomas.

We advised Caroline that, under the relevant European legislation, she and Pierre had jurisdiction to issue divorce proceedings in either England or France. We advised Caroline that, taking into account that she was the primary carer of the parties' two children, a Court in England and Wales would be likely to be more generous to her than the French Court if it was asked to decide upon the financial elements of the divorce.

We explained to Caroline that, in order to petition for divorce, she would need to be able to prove that the marriage had irretrievably broken down by relying on one of the following five facts: 

  • that Pierre had committed adultery and Caroline found it intolerable to continue to live with him;
  • that Pierre had behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect Caroline to continue living with him;
  • that Pierre had deserted Caroline for a continuous period of two years or more;
  • that Caroline and Pierre had been living separately for two years or more from the date on which Caroline concluded that the marriage was over and Pierre agreed to the divorce;
  • that Caroline and Pierre had been living separately for five years or more (in which case Pierre's consent would not be needed).

We advised Caroline that the only fact upon which she could rely to be able to issue a Divorce Petition immediately would be the second point, i.e. that Pierre had behaved in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect Caroline to continue living with him. Pierre had not committed adultery and the parties only separated one month before Caroline consulted us.

While it is good practice to try and obtain the other party's consent to the Petition and to try to reach agreement over the contents of an unreasonable behaviour petition, in Caroline's circumstances, where Pierre would have had jurisdiction to issue divorce proceedings in France, we advised her to issue a Divorce Petition without trying to agree the contents with Pierre. Caroline also needed to complete a Statement of Arrangements for Children, a Form which sets out the proposed arrangements for the children's residence and their contact with Pierre.

The Petition was issued at Court and was subsequently served on Pierre.

Pierre instructed solicitors and he returned the Acknowledgement of Service to the Court confirming that he was not intending to defend the divorce proceedings. We were then able to prepare an Affidavit for Caroline to swear, confirming that the contents of her Petition (and the Statement of Arrangements for children) were true. The Affidavit was sent to the Court with a request for a date for the first decree of divorce to be pronounced, the Decree Nisi.

During this period, Caroline and Pierre managed to discuss financial matters between them with the benefit of advice from solicitors and they came to an agreement in relation to the financial elements of the divorce. The agreement reached was embodied in a draft Consent Order, the content of which was agreed with Pierre's lawyers and was then lodged at Court for the approval of a Judge.

Six weeks and one day after the date of the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi, Caroline was able to apply for the final decree in divorce, the Decree Absolute.

For more information, please contact Charlotte Bradley on +44 (0)20 7814 1279 or email cbradley@kingsleynapley.co.uk.

Skip to content Home About Us Insights Services Contact Accessibility