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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Caribbean becomes hot divorce destination

The other day I highlighted the divorce hotel in Netherlands where couples can check in and get all the details of their separation sorted over a weekend stay. Well, a story in the press last week made me think on this topic a bit further. It was reported that an increasing number of British couples were flying off to the Caribbean to finalise their divorce because they can do it in 24 hours rather than the more usual six months in the UK. This is thanks to a new service, sorting the details for you and offering the “UK’s” first same day divorce.

Now this will set you back £4,500. Only one person has to travel if the other has signed a power of attorney document agreeing to the split. The paperwork is all sorted about a week in advance and it will only go ahead if agreement has been reached on division of assets and contact with any children, with signed declarations to that effect. The fee involves the documents, flights to the Dominican Republic, translation of documents to Spanish and all the other ancillary services.

The whole thing left me a little speechless and with a fairly bad taste in my mouth. I guess some might say “Well you would say that because it is doing you out of business” but that is not something I am concerned about. It was a number of issues that bothered me.

Firstly, would a divorce in the Caribbean stand up to scrutiny under English law if it was tested? I’m not sure it has been tested so I don’t know the answer but common sense suggests to me that dropping into a country for 24 hours for a divorce and then waving that bit of paper as legally binding thousands of miles away does not work. It’s only one step up from buying a degree on the internet. I’d want to be sure on this point before shelling out £4,500.

You can go through with this divorce holiday providing all the other bits and pieces have been sorted and your partner agrees to it – but that is the real trick isn’t it? If all those other things have been sorted, divorce is only a waiting game in the UK, a process that goes through the court for ratification to bring a marriage to a legal end. Who needs to rush through in 24 hours if everything else is sorted? It is those other things that take time and mean this will be far from a 24-hour divorce. And if everything else isn’t cut and dried, you cannot do this anyway.

A divorce is a very emotional experience for all involved. Hammering out the details often takes a little time even if all parties are being adult about it. The services of an experienced family law specialist can help you negotiate this as quickly and painlessly as possible. If it is not amicable, they can guide you through the different steps to ultimately reach a settlement. Without that guidance, there could be problems in the future that it will take more than a Caribbean holiday to sort out.

Andrew Woolley
Family solicitor


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