Most couples do not think twice about where they should start their divorce proceedings. Instead, they automatically rely on their local solicitor to start divorce proceedings in a convenient court to the solicitor’s office. However, in this day and age a lot of couples do have a potential choice about the country they can start divorce proceedings in. Without expert help from top London family solicitors, the opportunity to start divorce proceedings in the country of your choice can be lost.
Why is it so important to decide in which country you should get divorced?
If there is more than one choice of country in which you could start divorce proceedings in then the country you chose to commence the divorce proceedings in could have a massive impact on the amount you either pay to your husband or wife or you receive in the divorce financial award. That is why it is so important to get early specialist divorce and financial advice from the best London divorce solicitors.
divorce choice of country
The importance of the choice of country to get divorced in was strenuously argued by top family lawyers in the recent court of appeal case of Catja and Oliver Thum. The estranged husband and wife were arguing over whether Mrs Thum should be allowed by the English court to continue her English divorce proceedings or if Mr Thum should be able to proceed with his German divorce proceedings. As Mr Thum had started his German divorce proceedings shortly after Mrs Thum’s divorce petition, she argued that her petition should be allowed to proceed and his should be dismissed.
Unless you are a top London divorce solicitor, you would probably wonder why the couple were taking the argument on whether their divorce proceedings should continue in England or Germany to the court of appeal for a family judge to decide. Most people would think that a divorce is a divorce in whatever country you apply for the divorce, so why worry if you get your decree absolute of divorce in London or Germany?
Mr and Mrs Thum spent a lot of money in legal fees because their court of appeal case was about their wealth and how that wealth should be divided. If the divorce proceedings went ahead in London the family court in London would decide how their wealth was divided. If Mrs Thum was allowed to continue her English divorce proceedings it would be a major financial boost for her as this would mean that she would be able to start a financial claim against her multi-millionaire husband in the London divorce court. It is widely known that the London divorce court has the reputation of being far more generous in financial awards than divorce courts in other countries, including Germany.
Is it worth starting divorce proceedings in a country of your choice?
The decision to start divorce proceedings should never be rushed into, but sometimes you hear of divorce races to start divorce proceedings in a country of either the husband or wife's choice, depending on:
• Who is the financially weaker or stronger party to the marriage and
For some husbands and wifes, a delay in them deciding to issue divorce proceedings in their preferred choice of country can result in their spouse grabbing the financial advantage by starting divorce proceedings in their own choice of country.
Questions to ask when considering starting divorce proceedings in your country of choice
• Am I certain that I want to get divorced? If so, is it to my advantage to start divorce proceedings in my preferred country of choice and as the petitioner in the divorce proceedings to be in control of how quickly the divorce proceedings progress;
• How likely is it that my husband or wife will be honest about his or her finances and want to reach a financial settlement? If your husband or wife is likely to want to reach a fair financial agreement, then starting early divorce proceedings in your country of choice might sour relations and make it harder to reach a financial agreement. However, if your husband or wife is not honest about the extent of the family wealth, then starting speedy divorce proceedings in your choice of divorce court where the court has strong powers to order financial disclosure and enforce financial orders may be in your best interests;
• Do I have expert advice on where either of us could start divorce proceedings and the financial implications to me of my husband or wife starting the divorce proceedings in the country of their choice? It is really important to get early advice from a top divorce solicitor on the potential choices of country in which the divorce proceedings could be started as well as the types and range of financial court orders that could be made in each country where the divorce proceedings could be issued;
• Is it financially worth starting divorce proceedings in my country of choice, or will my husband or wife challenge my decision and try to start divorce proceedings in another country? Sometimes starting divorce proceedings in your country of choice is not justified in terms of the potential extra amount of the financial award in England against any extra legal costs that might arise in arguing over the country where the divorce should be heard. In the case of Mr and Mrs Thum, the legal costs of divorce solicitors taking the case to the court of appeal were justified to Mrs Thum because of the likely difference in approach to the division of the family wealth and the size of the financial award between the English court and her husband's preferred choice of the German court to deal with their divorce proceedings.
If there is potentially more than one country in which divorce proceedings could be started, it is important that you choose your divorce solicitors with care. Why? Not all divorce solicitors have experience of international divorce proceedings and choice of court jurisdictions. You also need the best divorce solicitor to act quickly to avoid your husband or wife starting the divorce proceedings in a country that is not favourable to you.
How do you chose a top London divorce solicitor for an international divorce? A good start point is to find a solicitor who is a member of Resolution, the national association of family and divorce solicitors. A London divorce solicitor will not be able to tell you the exact divorce laws and the difference in approach to financial claims on divorce in, for example, New Zealand, Norway or Pakistan but they will have the legal know how and expertise to quickly get expert opinions and advice from members of the International Academy of family lawyers. Once their expert opinion is available, then based on your individual family circumstances and wealth, top London family solicitors can then look at the likely parameters of an English divorce financial court award and help you decide what is in your best interests when it comes to choosing the country in which to start divorce proceedings.
OTS Solicitors advise on all aspects of family law and have particular experience in international divorce cases as a result of their immigration law expertise. OTS Solicitors are Legal 500 recommended immigration solicitors who also specialise in family law. OTS Solicitors provide specialist divorce and family law advice especially where there are international elements. Please get in touch with us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced solicitors.
Posted on: Thursday, 10 January, 2019