24th Oct 2022

International Divorce: Where to Start?

By Charlotte Symes

International Divorce: Where to Start?

Clients contemplating a divorce often ask whether it matters where they got married. You do not need to get divorced in the country where you got married. However, you should check whether you entered a marital property regime in the country where you got married, either by default or by choice.

Your marriage will be legally recognised in England, provided you and your spouse had capacity to enter into the marriage, had terminated any previous marriages before you got married, and provided you complied with the correct procedure and legal requirements in the country where your marriage ceremony took place.

If you are considering a divorce, there may be more than one country that has the jurisdiction to deal with your divorce and that depends on number of factors including where you live and your and your spouse’s nationality.

If you have international connections, it is important to take early legal advice to discuss your options. The outcome in terms of the division of assets and provision of income support can be very different depending on which country deals with your divorce. Since leaving the EU the rules have changed so England will now look at which court is more convenient to hear the proceedings, rather than the decision being solely dependent on the proceedings issued first in time.

If you or your spouse have a connection to England, you may have the option of a divorce in England (see my previous blog on this topic here: https://www.flip.co.uk/should-i-get-divorced-in-england-wales-or-abroad/).

At FLiP we often advise English clients who are living abroad who are getting divorced under English law, as well as international clients living in England who are getting divorced under English law. Equally, if the foreign court has jurisdiction to deal with a couple’s divorce as well as England, it is important to discuss the differences and the merits of the two jurisdictions before starting divorce proceedings.

I have a particular expertise in matters with a French element and here are some examples of how we can help you:

  • If you choose to instruct FLiP to represent you in your divorce or separation through solicitor led negotiation or the court process, we have connections with French professionals who can support us as needed (such as notaires, tax and property experts).
  • If you choose to work collaboratively, we have close relationships with other collaboratively trained solicitors with French expertise.
  • If you choose to mediate with your spouse, you will be able to express yourself in whichever language you feel comfortable whether that is French or English.
  • If you are entering into an English pre- or post-nuptial agreement with your partner, we work closely with a French lawyer to ensure that your agreement complies with the law in both France and England, if applicable.

Charlotte Symes is a solicitor, collaborative practitioner and mediator. She deals with complex financial issues arising from divorce and separation. Her work has a strong international dimension. As a French speaker she has the expertise to advise French clients and on cases with a French element. She is recommended in The Legal 500 UK and The Spear’s 500 Index.

For more information and to find out more about how the FLiP team can help you, look at our International Divorce page below.