Expatriate Divorce GUIDE

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Around 3 million UK expats have setup home in another country and many of these have ended in divorce. As with any divorce you will need to sort out details such as the division of the finances and assets, and arrangements for any children, not to mention the legal dissolution of the marriage.

Before seeking help from a family law specialist experienced in expat divorce, know what you want to achieve, get your financial affairs in order, you will need to provide a full financial disclosure, so you will need details on earnings, mortgages, investments, pensions, savings and other assets such as cars etc. all handy.

We are a family Law firm experienced in expatriate divorce and are able to deal with many different problems posed by cross border divorce.

We act for clients based overseas, or their partners based in the UK, involved in divorce proceedings in England and Wales. Our map below gives an indication of our coverage and experience in every continent (almost!) and across many jurisdictions 

Case Study

1. Mr A lived in New York on a short term contract and work permit, and he received a divorce petition from his wife who lived in the UK. We were able to facilitate proof of service and negotiations of finances to achieve a good settlement for him both as to finances (including his US pension) and contact with his children without the need for him to return to the UK for unnecessary court hearings.

2. Mr R lived in the Philippines, where there is no divorce. However, we established that he retained his UK domicile of origin and was able to divorce his Filipino wife and obtain a financial order, which could subsequently be recognized in the Philippines.


These may be about property or assets abroad or disputes over removing children out of the jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales. 

Where assets are held abroad and the spouse refuses to cooperate in disclosure or transfer, the court has the option of transferring all or most of the assets within the jurisdiction to the aggrieved party, including pensions based in England and Wales.

Note that Scotland and Eire are outside the jurisdiction for this purpose.

Case Studies 

Mrs W had lived in Scotland with her husband for most of her married life, but when he left her and moved to the Home Counties, he started divorce proceedings in England. This was prejudicial to her because the law on inherited wealth in Scotland favoured her circumstances. We argued successfully on her behalf that the correct jurisdiction had to be the Scottish courts and forced his London lawyers to withdraw their divorce proceedings in England. As a result, Mrs W was able to retain her inheritance from her family in Scotland for herself and her son.

Mrs B wanted to move back to her native France, where she would have family support to raise her son, but this was fiercely contested by her husband, although he had no plans to share the care of the child and both husband and wife worked. He was also extremely unreasonable about a fair financial settlement, even though he earned far more that his wife. Both elements went to trial, and we achieved orders allowing Mrs B to move to France with her son, with a fair settlement to start her new life supported by her family.

Mrs C was married to a British national who worked as a diamond mine engineer in Africa. He refused to cooperate with disclosure, insisting that the former matrimonial home where she lived with their schoolboy son was his only main asset and it should be sold, and the proceeds split equally. However, assiduous investigation by Mike Gordon, coupled with repeated applications to court for more disclosure, eventually revealed sufficient information to persuade the court that the husband was lying about his assets held overseas, and he was warned by the District Judge that the court could order all assets in the jurisdiction to be transferred to Mrs C. This forced the husband to admit defeat and make a reasonable offer to Mrs C including the matrimonial home which was confirmed in a consent order of court without trial.

If you think we can help you with a divorce that you think is impossible to achieve, contact us here at Penny Raby & Co, experts in expatriate divorce

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