A divorce through the English courts may be available to you if you are living outside the UK, or are living in the UK but originally from other parts of the world. There are added complexities to a divorce in such cases at Woolley & Co we call this an Expat Divorce.
You may need an expat divorce:
- If you are originally from England or Wales but currently live in another part of the world and want to use the English Courts to obtain a divorce.
- If your marriage took place abroad.
- If you have lived outside the UK for a number of years, have only recently returned and want to divorce here.
- If you and / or your spouse are from outside the UK, have made your home in England or Wales and choose to divorce here.
- If your spouse lives outside the UK and there may be issues in tracing them or debate about where to get divorced.
There may be other circumstances where an ‘expat divorce’ or international divorce law applies. There are some complex legal issues to consider so it always best to take advice from a lawyer experienced in international divorce issues.
The expat team at Woolley & Co
The majority of our lawyers are able to offer advice on international and expat divorce issues, including how to get a divorce in the UK, advice on issues of jurisdiction (whether you would be eligible for an expat divorce), as well as the international relocation of children, or ‘leave to remove’ as it is sometimes called.
Contact Woolley & Co and we will put you in touch with a member of our team experienced in divorce across international boundaries.
Am I eligible to divorce under English law?
This is the most common question that expats ask. The main issues to be answered are in relation to where you and your spouse are ‘domiciled’ (see below) and where you are habitually resident (normally live).
Domicile is a legal concept used to link an individual with a particular legal system. It takes into account where you were born as well as where you are living now and your intentions for the future. Our lawyers will be able to advise you, whether you are eligible for a divorce through the English Courts and in straight-forward situations may be able to do this during a half hour telephone appointment.
Fixed fee expat divorce
Woolley & Co offer a special fixed fee divorce service for an expat divorce in the situations described above. In cases of uncontested divorce we can handle your divorce from start to finish, preparing all the necessary paperwork, filing papers at the court and considering all issues of jurisdiction (ie which country’s laws apply).
Why divorce through the English Courts?
Using the English legal system is often much quicker, cheaper and more effective than attempting to use the local jurisdiction and in many instances expats are prevented from applying for divorce in the country to which they have moved.
Deciding where to divorce
As it can be beneficial to use the English legal system to process your divorce you should always take advice on whether you are eligible to divorce under English law. If your circumstances are at all complicated, for example you married abroad, either party is not a UK citizen or, you live or are domiciled in different countries then there are complicated rules which apply some of those due to European legislation and so your circumstances may need to be explored in much more detail. Our detailed case assessment is appropriate in these circumstances to ensure you receive the best possible advice.
Limitations of the English Courts
There are some limitations on what can be ordered through the English court system for instance with regard to foreign owned property, depending on whether any potential orders for its sale or transfer are capable of being enforced in the country in which they are held. This is a highly difficult and procedural area of the law and advice should be sought from the outset to determine other ways in which such property can be dealt with, such as offsetting a party’s interest in other assets of the marriage in order that such property can be retained. That said if an agreement can be reached between the parties as to a sale or transfer of that foreign property, the Court here will approve it.
A note about Scottish Law
The law in England and Wales is different to the law in Scotland. If you and / or spouse consider yourself to be Scottish citizens, you both normally live in Scotland, lived in Scotland during the marriage or have a stronger connection with Scotland than England or Wales you should take advice from a solicitor qualified in Scotland.
If one of you is Scottish and the other from overseas however you may still be able to divorce in England. Call us to discuss your particular circumstances.
Need further advice?
Contact Woolley & Co on +44 (0) 1789 330310 or request a call for advice on international divorce from one of our friendly, knowledgeable family law solicitors.