In England and Wales, it is not uncommon for couples to move abroad for periods of time for work commitments. When such couples separate and decide to divorce, there is often doubt as to which country proceedings should be issued. Different countries have different laws relating to divorce and therefore choosing the best jurisdiction is a very important decision. 

The English Courts will have jurisdiction in the following circumstances:

  • Both parties are resident in England and Wales; or
  • Both parties were last jointly habitually resident in England and one still resides here; or
  • The Respondent is habitually resident in England; or
  • The Petitioner is habitually resident here and has resided here for the last 12 months; or
  • The Petitioner is domiciled and habitually resident here and has resided here for at least the last 6 months; or
  • Both parties are domiciled here.

For example, an English family living in Sweden due to husband’s job – husband tells wife he has met someone else and wants a divorce. In this scenario; the wife would be advised to issue a Divorce Petition in the UK.

This should be done as soon as possible as if the husband issues first in Sweden then the Swedish Courts will have exclusive jurisdiction. If this was to happen, the wife may well receive a less favourable financial settlement as Swedish Courts favour a financial clean break and therefore the wife may lose any rights 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.  

Contact your specialist police family law representative for legal advice on International Divorce. We offer free initial consultations and reduced rates for all police personnel.