In England and Wales, it is not uncommon for couples to move abroad for periods of time for work commitments. When couples who are in this situation separate and decide to divorce, there is often doubt as to which country proceedings should be issued in.
Different countries have different divorce laws, and therefore choosing the best jurisdiction is a very important decision. The English courts have jurisdiction in any of the following circumstances:
1. Both parties are resident in England and Wales
2. Both parties were last jointly habitually resident in England and one still resides here
3. The respondent is habitually resident in England
4. The petitioner is habitually resident here and has resided here for the last 12 months
5. The petitioner is domiciled and habitually resident here and has resided here for at least the last 6 months
6. Both parties are domiciled here
For example, if an English family is living in Sweden because of the husband’s job, and the husband meets someone else and wants a divorce, the wife would be advised to issue a divorce petition in the UK as soon as possible. If her husband issues one first in Sweden, the Swedish courts will have exclusive jurisdiction. In that case, the wife might receive a less favourable financial settlement, as Swedish courts favour a financial clean break, and therefore she might lose the right to spousal maintenance.
It is evident therefore that international family law is a complex area, and it is important that expert legal advice is sought at the earliest opportunity.
For further confidential expert advice, please contact Slater & Gordon Lawyers.