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5 reasons for an expat to divorce in England

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5 reasons to divorce in England.

When faced with a breakdown of your marriage, things can be complicated enough but if your situation also has an international element, things can be even harder to work through as often there is more than one country that could deal with your divorce.

This will affect you if for example;

  • you were married abroad and you are concerned whether your marriage will be recognised in England 
  • you were married in England but one or both of you are living abroad
  • you or your spouse were born somewhere other than England.

There is a common myth that if you were married in England you are automatically entitled to divorce here. That’s not necessarily the case if you are now living abroad. The situation is complicated further depending on whether you are living inside or outside the EU.

If you can apply to divorce in England here are 5 reasons why you might want to do so:

  1. Language barriers
    If English is your native language then clearly issuing a divorce in England is preferable for you. A divorce abroad in a foreign language can be confusing, misleading and you may have to go to extra expense in obtaining accurate translations.
  2. Applying for financial orders
    If you and your spouse have assets in England that need to be shared then issuing here will allow the English Court to make the appropriate Orders, this is particularly so with regards to pension assets because an Order made in a foreign court will not be recognised here by the UK pension scheme administrator. 
  3. Simple process
    The process here is largely recognised as more much more straightforward than most other jurisdictions. A straightforward, undefended divorce with no assets to settle can take as little as 4 – 5 months and at no time will you need to attend Court.
  4. Finding a specialist family lawyer
    Having the ability to obtain a recommendation for a specialist lawyer here from say family or friends who have been through the process is key in ensuring that a fair and amicable settlement is achieved as cost effectively as possible.    
  5. Cost
    The costs of obtaining a divorce in England can in most cases be carried out on a fixed fee giving you certainty of overall costs.

It is a complex field and you should always take specialist advice before you issue your petition because the decision to issue in England or elsewhere can have far reaching adverse consequences that might reduce your chances of a fair financial settlement.

The most important thing is to understand the options available to you and to select the jurisdiction that will serve you most effectively.

Sue Harwood
Expat divorce lawyer

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