What to do when expat divorce is the only option?

Published:  17 Dec at 6 PM
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Tagged: UK, Emigration, England
It may be the last thing on would-be expat couples’ minds, but divorce can be a direct result of emigration.

Quitting the home country and settling in an unfamiliar culture can put a strain on the happiest of marriages, especially when previously working wives have to give up their careers to boost their husbands’ chances of success. Retired couples can find themselves in conflict due to outside influences in the marriage or even a clandestine relationship between the husband and a local girl. Divorce doesn’t always follow, but when it’s the only way forward it pays to known how to go about it in a foreign country.

If you’re still legally domiciled in England or Wales and are living overseas, it’s possible to get divorced via an English court simply by proving one or both of you are British residents. However, if you’ve both retired overseas and are planning never to return to the UK, your petition may well be refused and you’ll need to look at divorce options in your country of residence. As a British expat, it’s possible for you to qualify to divorce in your new country, in your original country of birth, where you regularly live or even where your spouse was born.

Another point to consider is your situation should you have entered into a British prenuptial agreement which may not be recognised by an overseas court. In addition, should you be divorcing under the British legal system, UK courts are not authorised to handle certain aspects of the final agreement. Complicated legal issues may well arise should there be jointly owned overseas properties, as British courts’ jurisdictions will depend on whether already-made transfers or sales agreements are actually enforceable in couples’ countries of residence. Other issues arise if there are children of the family, with maintenance and access laws differing country to country. If divorce is the only solution, professional advice is the best way to ensure the matter is dealt with fairly and with no pitfalls.
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