Things to consider when divorcing abroad

With an increasing number of Britons living, working, or marrying abroad, the complexities of international divorce are becoming more relevant than ever. 

The number of marriages in the UK has steadily decreased over a number of decades, but this hasn’t translated to a decline in divorces over the same period.

Going through a divorce, especially abroad, is an emotionally challenging experience. Navigating the legalities of dissolving a marriage across borders requires particularly careful consideration of various factors. 

Here’s a breakdown of the key areas to address if you are contemplating a divorce that has international considerations.

Understanding jurisdiction and legal frameworks

The question of where to file for divorce is crucial. Jurisdiction is determined by factors like your residency, domicile (essentially your permanent home), and the length of time you’ve been in a particular country. The legal framework applied to your case will depend on the chosen jurisdiction. 

Countries like the UK have adopted a more flexible approach, allowing divorces based on a year of habitual residence, alongside traditional factors like domicile. Consulting a lawyer specialising in international family law in both your home country and the potential divorce location is vital.

Financial disclosure and division of assets

Financial settlements in international divorces can be particularly complex. Understanding how the chosen jurisdiction treats marital assets, any prenuptial agreements, and separate property is crucial. 

For instance, the UK generally adopts a community of property approach, dividing marital assets acquired during the marriage. In contrast, some countries might differentiate between premarital and marital assets. Full financial disclosure from both parties is essential for a fair and transparent division.

Child custody and parenting arrangements

If children are involved, their wellbeing takes precedence. International custody arrangements can be challenging, especially with considerations of relocation and travel. 

The Hague Convention offers frameworks for resolving such disputes, but legal guidance is crucial to navigate the legalities specific to your situation.

Open communication and mediation

While facing a divorce abroad, open communication with your spouse remains paramount. Exploring mediation, a process where a neutral third party facilitates discussions, can prove beneficial. Mediation can be a cost-effective way to reach agreements on finances, child custody, and other crucial aspects, especially if both parties are willing to cooperate.

Legal representation and settlement agreements

Having experienced legal representation familiar with international divorce law is highly advisable. They can guide you through the intricacies of the process, ensuring your rights are protected. A well-drafted settlement agreement outlining financial arrangements, child custody, and other agreed-upon terms can provide clarity and help avoid future disputes.

By carefully considering these factors and seeking professional legal guidance, you can approach the process with a clearer understanding of your rights and options, paving the way for a more amicable and efficient resolution.