Choosing the Right Divorce Jurisdiction

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Separating couples who have more than one nationality and/or domicile, or live or work in different countries, may have a choice as to where they divorce or where they dispute financial arrangements for themselves or their children. Lawyers call this a choice of jurisdiction or forum. We are able to give rapid, effective advice on this choice.
 

Prior to 11pm on 31 December, in cases involving European countries, which are EU member states the  rules provided that the first person to issue divorce proceedings will “seize” the jurisdiction that they choose to the exclusion of the other.

However, following the UK’s departure from the EU (Brexit) and the ending of the transition period,  as from 1 January 2021 the previous rule of ‘first to issue’ no longer applies. Instead, the rules which have applied for non EU countries now apply to all states and , if each of the divorcing spouses petition in different jurisdictions,  the English court will have to consider which jurisdiction has the strongest links to hear the divorce case and therefore which is the most appropriate forum. The basis of divorce has been extended in the UK to include the sole domicile of either spouse. EU member states will still apply the ‘first to issue’ rules so speed is still of the essence and anyone with International connections should take advice quickly so they can consider their options in one or more countries. 

The divorce laws of different countries treat assets, income and pensions in different ways. Depending on which jurisdiction is secured can mean a dramatically different divorce settlement.

You should therefore seek advice as soon as possible if you think there may be a choice of jurisdiction in your case. We can advise as to whether there is a choice and, if so, which jurisdiction would be more/less favourable to you. You may also be advised to consider other factors such as the ease of enforcing the court order once made and the level of legal costs in the potential jurisdictions.

We have wide experience of these international cases and regularly work alongside lawyers in other countries to secure the best outcome for you and your family.  

Recent examples of work

  • Acting for a London based French wife who secured jurisdiction for divorce in London so that her and the children’s financial claims could be determined here. By securing jurisdiction quickly, in a country where the couple had lived all of their married life, the client managed to secure a substantially higher settlement than she would have received in France.
  • Representing a French wife in a jurisdiction divorce case, S and S (Brussels II revised: Articles 19(1) and (3): reference to CJEU) [2014] EWHC 3613 (Fam), involving competing proceedings in France and England. The case was subsequently heard in the Court of Justice of the EU
  • Advising an Italian husband as to the merits of issuing divorce and financial proceedings prior or following 31 December 2020 (when the transition period following Brexit) came to an end, to take into account the applicability of EU regulations prior to 31 December, issues of maintenance, and enforceability.  

"Professional yet sympathetic manner and the team always fights hard to defend your interests"

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession

WHAT IS SAID ABOUT US

"It's a team that has a great breadth of experience across the board and particularly in international cases."

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession

"I always think of them as having a Rolls-Royce service but they are particularly good when there's a European element to the case."

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession

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Legal 500 UK

"Professional yet sympathetic manner and the team always fights hard to defend your interests"

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession

 

If you require further information or advice from our team of specialist family lawyers, please contact a member of our team or call us on +44 (0)20 7814 1200.

"They made a very difficult time much easier to deal with. Their professionalism kept me sane and focused on the outcome I needed"

Client

"It's a team that has a great breadth of experience across the board and particularly in international cases"

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession

"All have been excellent and have shown great diligence and practicality, along with sensitivity during a very difficult time in my life"

Client

"Rolls-Royce service and particularly good when there's a European element to the case"

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession

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