International

A lot of couples (and solicitors) do not realise that there are international family law elements to their case. Unless both partners are English or Welsh and have British nationality and always lived in England and Wales, there is likely to be an international family law dimension.

It is vital to identify international elements early because a wrong step can easily prejudice the entire case.

The husband and wife are both French and live in various countries. They plan to move to England and the wife moves ahead and issues a divorce in England. On the same day the husband starts a divorce in Paris. The French court did not record the time when the papers were lodged there, but the English court did. Accordingly the English court took precedence and the French divorce was dismissed.

The English court would decide the financial applications under English law, which in a lot of cases (but not always) are much more favourable to the financially weaker party, usually the wife.

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Even in international cases it is possible to come to an overall agreement through mediation. Sometimes it may be necessary to start court proceedings in one country first so that the other party cannot do that in another country. However, litigation in international cases can be costly, in particular if there are legal proceedings in more than one country. Mediation can cut through this and you can start mediation at any time in the proceedings.

For advice on your specific circumstances please contact a solicitor

5 May 2016 by Andrea Woelke