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International Family Law FAQs

Julius brings over 20 years’ experience in Family Law much of it specialising in cases that involve an international element. He sat down to answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding international Family Law.

I was married abroad, do I need to divorce in the same country I was married?

You do not need to go back to the country you were married in. In order to be able to file here, you need to have lived here and will have some connections to this particular country (ie. England and Wales). Jurisdiction is usually established by residence but is sometimes established by other long-term connections (legally, this is referred to as domicile) and this may, for example, include citizenship. It is important to get advice on the appropriate jurisdiction to file in at an early stage as the outcome in two different countries (even with similar legal systems) can be very different.

I am worried that my partner is going to take my children abroad and remove them, what do I do?

You should urgently seek our advice and we can take steps to obtain appropriate emergency court orders and assess the situation.

Can’t I get a’Haitian’ divorce (a ‘quickie’ divorce, without both parties agreeing)?

You may be able to get a Haitian divorce but there is often an issue as to whether it is necessarily going to be accepted by the authorities here and whether you can enforce any order in relation to your finances. In any event, it is well worth discussing with us before proceeding.

I want to take my children abroad to live as there are better opportunities, but my partner does not agree, what should I do?

If you cannot agree where the children can live you will need to seek the permission of the courts here. You should speak to us about how to do this and the best way of approaching the situation. The courts also encourage less costly steps such as mediation and alternative dispute resolution which may be an appropriate option we can look at with you.

My spouse and I were married abroad and have lived abroad as well but are still British citizens. Does that mean that I cannot go back to England for the divorce?

Your citizenship is one factor in establishing whether or not you’re domiciled in this country, which may well allow you to bring a divorce and financial claim.

I think I know where I want to file, can’t I simply get my divorce online and/or using one of the cheap services that are offered on the internet?

Firstly, it is worth checking the right jurisdiction if you have an international connection and/or assets and income abroad from one of the spouses in a marriage. Secondly, it may be that it is possible to file for divorce online and for some people it may be cheaper, but unless you and your spouse have absolutely everything agreed, attempting to cut the cost of a lawyer can be a false economy. It is worth at least seeking some guidance to help you assess the best available options.

I have recently obtained a simple foreign divorce but never made a financial claim. I am now penniless and living here. Do I have any right to make a claim against my former spouse?

The courts here do allow you to make a claim pursuant to a foreign divorce (largely for non-EU jurisdictions) and we would be happy to talk to you about this further.


For further information and assistance in relation to international family law, please contact Julius Brookman.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.