In England’s green and pleasant land.

Miranda Green looks at the complexities of international family law in the Surrey Life September 2019 issue. Miranda is nationally recognised as one of the very few Resolution accredited specialists in International and European Family Law and the only such recognised lawyer in Surrey. 

Surrey’s rolling hills and quintessential English pubs provide a misleading backdrop to just how cosmopolitan this County is.  In an increasingly mobile world, it is now a way of life to have colleagues, neighbours and friends of different nationalities who have relocated here. 

We are fortunate enough to have a large number of schools on our doorstep which cater for overseas families, as well as large corporations attracting a large number of ex-pats every year.  Whilst many will view the UK as their home and integrate into the English way of life, the majority will still retain strong connections with their homeland.  Nevertheless in the event of you either marrying or your current relationship breaking down there will be additional legal issues over and above these ones to deal with.  International family law is a highly complex and specialist area.  Any couple with international connections should take legal advice from a solicitor here who specialises in international family law.

Pre-nuptial Agreements

Pre-nuptial Agreements aim to set out how assets are shared between a couple in the event they get divorced.  They are common place in many Countries and binding.  This is not the case in England and Wales although their status has increased considerably in recent years and there is a growing recognition of their important role in society.  For couples who wish to have a Pre-nuptial Agreement then the current guidance is that each seek independent legal advice as to what would be a fair and reasonable provision in the event of a divorce.  It would be prudent to include a review clause in the Agreement in the event of children being born.  In addition you must provide full details of your respective wealth and ensure that any agreement is signed by you both well ahead of the wedding.  Providing these guidelines are followed the presence of a Pre-nuptial Agreement in the event of a divorce will be a factor that the Court will give consideration to and potentially considerable weight. 

Divorce

In the unfortunate situation where you believe that your marriage has “irretrievably broken down” then you will need to be able to demonstrate that you are both habitually resident here or at least one of you is or you are domiciled here.

It is imperative that you seek specialist legal advice about where you can start Divorce Proceedings urgently as these are legal terms which you would need to consider to establish whether you will meet the criteria to commence proceedings here.  The English Courts will have a different approach to Divorce and family law to foreign Courts.  The choice of Country can have a huge impact on the outcome of financial arrangements.  Your English solicitor will want to speak to their counterpart in the other relevant Country to establish the range of financial orders available to you in either jurisdiction so that you are fully equipped to make an informed decision.  The English Courts have long enjoyed a reputation for being financially generous to wives.  It would be wise to also consider the practicalities of commencing proceedings in another Country especially if there will be Court Hearings that you will need to attend. 

Children

In the event of a breakup of a relationship, you may wish to move abroad with the children to start a new life.  In the event that your Partner does not agree to you moving abroad then you will need to seek the permission of the Court.  The Court will base any decision on what is in the best interests of the children.  You will need to show the Court that you have considered where you will live, where the children will go to school and what your proposals are for the children to see their other parent.  These are a few crucial considerations to address.  If the children are old enough then their views will also be taken into account.  It can take a long time to resolve any disputes and this will affect any final financial settlement that is granted.

The contents of this article are intended as guidance for readers. It can be no substitute for specific advice. Consequently we cannot accept responsibility for this information, errors or matters affected by subsequent changes in the law, or the content of any website referred to in this article. © Mundays LLP  

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