The complications of international cross-border family law disputes

The number of international family law disagreements is growing Why? We live in a globalised era and as a result it is increasingly common for people to marry a foreign national overseas and live in various countries over the course of their lives.

Despite the increasingly international nature of family life, there is still no clear body of international family law. Bits and pieces of the relevant family law of the countries involved are therefore used in conjunction, even though they may conflict with one another.

Differences in court practices, schedules and the power to force disclosure, as well as variations in attitudes towards legal representation and the protection of child welfare make the resolution of financial disputes in international divorce extremely complex.

There are a number of international initiatives designed to work in the best interests of children. For example, courts almost invariably try to avoid moving a child from the country they are settled in following parental separation, until long-term arrangements are finalised. Sometimes though, it is important to act quickly, especially in cases where one parent moves a child abroad without seeking the permission of the other parent.

It may be the case that a spouse can save thousands of pounds by filing for divorce overseas in a different jurisdiction. In order to take advantage of this, legal action must be obtained without delay. Where there is a suspicion that a spouse may try to move assets it is also a good idea to seek a freezing order to ensure that the assets cannot be touched.

Looking for International Family Law Advice? all us now

If you have complex international family law disputes, our expert solicitors are here to help.

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Do courts in the UK recognise marriages or divorces finalised overseas?

Many people worry whether their overseas divorce or marriage will hold legal weight in UK courts. In terms of marriage, the UK has very few limitations on which marriages will be recognised. As long as the marriage followed correct legal procedure in the jurisdiction where it was finalised and the parties were eligible to marry according to the laws of their country of domicile, the marriage will be accepted in the UK. It should be noticed that original marriage certificates may need to be seen by authorities in the UK, or at least copies (translated if necessary) which have been cleared by a lawyer.

Divorcing within the UK is comparatively simple. England and Wales will accept a divorce granted in Scotland or Northern Ireland –  and vice versa. It is fairly similar in the EU where there are only very few scenarios in which an EU member state will not recognise a divorce granted by another member.

It becomes more complicated for foreign divorce granted outside the EU though. In these instances, it all comes down to judicial proceedings. Where the judicial proceedings of the country in question have been followed lawfully resulting in a divorce, the UK is very unlikely to refuse to recognise divorce. However, if judicial proceedings have not been followed and religious forms of divorce have been followed for example, UK courts are less likely to accept the divorce. This is because some forms of divorce do not give women advance warning of divorce for example, which is deemed to contradict UK standards of fairness.

Worried about getting divorced overseas? Call us now

Divorce lawyers with a detailed understanding of the complexities of international family law are hard to come by. Our specialist divorce lawyers have significant experience dealing with overseas divorce and would be happy to help you.

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International divorce law advice – the complexity

In the UK and indeed in most developed countries nowadays, marriages are increasingly international – and so is divorce . 15% of marriages in the UK are international in one way or another – and this brings certain complications.

Different countries take very difficult angles on divorce and one need only look at Europe to discover the diversity of legal approached. Malta doesn’t award divorces at all, taking a very hard line approach, whereas countries in Scandinavia have a tendency to be very lenient when it comes to divorce and impose relatively very few restrictions.

In most countries the key justification for applying for divorce is being a resident in that country however this is not always the most important thing. In the UK for example, the concept of ‘domicile’ plays a crucial role.

Recent attempts to synchronize the process of getting divorced across the EU have led to the creation of a ‘divorce race’. It is now the case that divorce proceedings will take place in the jurisdiction where the application was first made. This has led to instances of couples rushing to get unhitched in different countries with one application being made just minutes before the other.

The introduction of this race means that spouses must choose carefully which country they file for divorce in. The financial share that a spouse receives could be very different in one country to another. The UK has a reputation internationally for overlooking the terms of pre-nuptial agreements and for giving large financial shares to spouses as maintenance. Other countries give set percentages of the wealthier spouse’s salary to the partner as maintenance.

Looking for International Divorce Law Advice? Call our experts today

The multi jurisdictional nature of international divorce makes it a very tricky area of law. It is therefore important that you have an experienced lawyer in control of your case. Our divorce lawyers are specialists – family law is all they do, with plenty of experience in overseas divorce and divorce involving a foreign national. So, for FREE phone advice and a FREE first 30 minute appointment:

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Forum disputes – international divorce law

Divorcing spouses (often expatriates) keen to get the upper hand on their ex-partner are increasingly exploring ‘forum shopping’, the practice of filing for divorce in the jurisdiction which is most likely to serve their interests, particularly financially. Each spouse can choose a preferred jurisdiction and commence proceedings and a decision must then be taken by the court on which international jurisdiction is most appropriate.

EU – the race to divorce

If the jurisdictions in question are within the European Union, forum shopping essentially becomes a competition of who can file for divorce first in their chosen jurisdictions. Between UK courts and the family law courts of EU member states there are other criteria which come into play though, with the court with the closest ties with the families likely to be chosen.

In many ways, this is an unfortunate practice which often boils down to gambles about which jurisdiction will maximise a spouse’s share in the financial settlement. Sadly, this undermines the good work that UK courts have done to promote less acrimonious forms of dispute resolution of late for divorcing couples. Before considering forum shopping, spouses should pit the possible financial advantages against the impact that taking such action can have on other areas of divorce proceedings and most important the detrimental impact that it might have on children and other family members. Furthermore, forum disputes can be very expensive and subject to lengthy delays.

Forum shopping – factors to consider

Those thinking about filing for divorce in an overseas jurisdiction really need to take the following issues into consideration:

• Whether the spouse would still be able to apply for a UK financial order despite the overseas ruling

• Whether the court is willing to recognise the original marriage. Does it have the power to deal with eh case anyway?

• Whether or not filing the case overseas would affect your domicile, nationality or immigration status

• Exactly what the courts will take into account when looking at the case

• Whether you understand the language and can afford the time and expense of travel back and forth

• Whether assets can be frozen pending trial to prevent your spouse moving assets around the world out of sight

• Whether the country in which the assets are held would recognise the judgement of the chosen court

• Whether the court has strong enough powers to compel the other side to disclose financial information. Spain for example as weak powers in this regard

• Will the court’s ruling prevent you moving to or remarrying in another country you may wish to live in?

• Whether the court may use its powers to make rulings on other divorce disputes such as children matters which you may not wish to be included. The cost of losing out in this area may outweigh the advantages of receiving a larger financial slice.

Looking for International Divorce Law Advice in the UK? Call us now

It is crucial that you choose a specialist divorce solicitor, especially if your divorce involves difficult international financial issues.

  • For FREE specialist advice, simply call us on the following numbers

SALISBURY [01722] 422300

AMESBURY [01980] 622992

ANDOVER [01264] 364433              

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Your first meeting with your solicitor – points to consider

Many people feel apprehensive about meeting their solicitor for the first time to take about family matters – after all, sharing personal information with a virtual stranger is not an attractive prospect. It is vital that you have a good relationship with whichever solicitor you choose so here is some advice on how to get the most out of your first meeting.

When looking for a family law or divorce solicitor you should ask around for recommendations. If people you like have had a positive experience with the solicitor it is more likely that you will as well. Make sure you check out the firm they work for and look at their website – this can help you find out whether the firm can offer alternative methods of dispute resolution, such as family mediation or collaborative law [our team includes two jointly qualified family lawyer/mediators and three collaborative lawyers] .

You want to ensure that you will be as comfortable as possible at the meeting. If it would help to have a friend in the meeting with you as a source of comfort, then you should ask a friend in advance. Being prepared is also a big help, so it is a good idea to take a list of questions to ask the solicitor along with any key information or financial evidence that may be required.

It is important to try and shed your inhibitions when in your meeting. Remember that your solicitor deals with similar cases every day and will not judge you for anything you say. You must try and give a full and frank account of your position. You must also bear in mind that you are striving for a professional relationship with your solicitor rather than a friendship, so do not rely on them for moral support. You will end up paying for their time, so whilst it is desirable for them to be supportive and sympathetic you want them so distance themselves emotionally.

Quite often, people decide that they wish to try and work through their relationship problems and it is not a family law solicitor’s job to try and convince you to take any particular course of action. When you meet one of Bonallack & Bishop’s divorce solicitors, you will receive a FREE, no-obligation, first half-hour appointment allowing you talk through all available options with an expert.

Looking for a specialist Family and Divorce Law Solicitor? Call us now

For family law advice from solicitors you can trust, get in touch with Bonallack & Bishop today.

Your first half-hour appointment with one of our experienced family law specialists is FREE of charge, so just call one of the following local numbers for FREE specialist advice

SALISBURY [01722] 422300

AMESBURY [01980] 622992

ANDOVER [01264] 364433              

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Birth certificates – registering the father’s details

The law dictates that the birth of your child must be registered within 6 weeks of the birth in the registration district where the child was born. Registration is very straightforward, only taking around 20 minutes of your time and it’s free.

As things stand, only the name of the child’s mother needs to be registered on the birth certificate and whilst the father’s name can be listed, it is not a requirement. As a result, there are thought to be over 50,000 infants born every year whose birth certificates do not mention a father.

This has little impact on those fathers who are married to the child’s mother; however fathers who are not married to the mother can be put in a difficult position when it comes to parental responsibility when it comes to parental responsibility if they are not listed on the birth certificate.

Unmarried fathers do not automatically assume parental responsibility and in fact, they can only achieve parental responsibility if they go with the mother to register the birth. If both parents are married then either parent can go to register the birth. An unmarried father can assume parental responsibility of the child in various ways however the most straightforward way is to be named on the birth certificate.

Looking for advice on parental responsibility? Look no further

If you are looking to find out how to obtain parental responsibility, you need look no further than experts solicitors here at Bonallack & Bishop who have extensive family law experience.

Simply call us on the following local numbers for FREE expert advice

SALISBURY [01722] 422300

AMESBURY [01980] 622992                           

ANDOVER [01264] 364433               

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The complexity of getting divorced abroad

Lots of people do not realise that the laws governing their family life are not carried with them from their homeland. Indeed, couples must abide by local laws regarding marriage and divorce in the same way which they would abide by local road safety or criminal laws.

Approaches to divorce vary enormously, even between countries in Europe. Malta for example doesn’t allow divorce whereas Denmark only requires 24 weeks notice to untie the knot. Countries around the world have different requirements for divorce proceedings. For example, whereas residence is the most crucial consideration in many countries, ‘domicile’ takes precedence in the UK and citizenship is the main criterion in many other countries.

The EU has not really succeeded in standardising divorce law across member states. However, it is the case across all member states that wherever divorce proceedings were filed first is where the case will be heard. This means that spouses competing to gain a financial edge in particular need to act very quickly in order to reap any rewards and avoid losing out. The cost and outcomes of divorce proceedings in different EU countries remain very different though.

If you live overseas and are trying to find an appropriate place to file for divorce, you may wish to ask yourself the following questions:

• Which jurisdiction is most likely to maximise your time with your children and perhaps allow you to return to your home country with them?

• Where will you get the greatest financial advantage?

• Which jurisdictions are likely to fully respect your pre-nuptial agreement?

• Where is most convenient in terms of travel, expense etc.?

Is Getting Divorced Abroad Right For You?

Overseas divorce is a highly specialised area of family law so it is important that the divorce lawyer you choose has experience in this area. The solicitors at our firm are experts in overseas divorce, so:

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I’ve come to an agreed divorce settlement with my husband – can we split the pension without a formal court order?

Any agreed divorce settlement regarding pension arrangements needs to be finalised through the court, as it’s not otherwise possible to divide pension arrangements. The members’ retirement benefits also have to be divided in a court order. All of this is because the pension provider or scheme can’t act to divide the pension without permission from the court.

A clean break court order is considered final – but it doesn’t need to be contested if the parties have already come to an agreement through their solicitors about division of the family assets. The court order will normally simply give consent for the agreed parties to go ahead and for the scheme provider to divide the pension.

Pensions and divorce involve a complicated area of law. Make sure you get the right legal advice from a specialist divorce solicitor.

For legal advice on divorce and pensions to rely on – call us today

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would welcome an informal 30 minute meeting at a time to suit you

  •  Just call us on the following numbers for FREE specialist advice

SALISBURY [01722] 422300

AMESBURY [01980] 622992

ANDOVER [01264] 364433              

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Is Collaborative Law Right for You?

In a divorce case, court hearings and high legal costs have come to form the context of ending a relationship. With collaborative law, a settlement can be reached out of court, with an emphasis on discussion and understanding, rather than confrontation and accusation. If you are seeking to end a relationship as smoothly as possible, whilst keeping communication calm and dignified, collaborative law may offer the best way to do so.

Unlike family mediation, family lawyers representing each person are present throughout collaborative meetings, and can help to guide negotiations with their advice. However, if you wish to control your own dealings, without the outside judgment of a court that may take one side or the other, then collaborative law presents this opportunity.

Collaborative law involves two lawyers, fully trained in the process, representing those involved, so you will still incur legal costs, often more so than with mediation. However, lawyers place great importance on arranging face to face meetings, and in comparison to a process of letters and phone calls with a traditional divorce case, meetings are encouraged to be as amicable and understanding as possible. In the interests of ending a marriage as swiftly as possible, you will still need, under collaborative law, to provide full financial disclosure to your partner and their lawyer.

Rather than facing your partner in a courtroom, collaborative law encourages stage by stage negotiations, with meetings documented, and meetings with your lawyer held to arrange points for future discussion. Particularly where children are concerned, negotiations focus on putting them first, and in maintaining a working relationship with your partner in order to carry out your parenting responsibilities. However, if a legal claim is needed to be put before a court, or an injunction, such as a restraining order on a partner is in place, collaborative law should not be undertaken.

A collaborative divorce case focuses on productive and civil discussion, rather than a circle of stress and blame often associated with the end of a marriage. Legal advisers can help you through each meeting, and place no pressure on you with time frames, such as is the case in court hearings. Multiple court appearances increase the cost of divorce cases, and the prolonged process can often be detrimental to a couple’s health, as well as their finances. Collaboration also focuses on helping you to reach the next stage of your life, and should be considered in order to achieve a final and lasting settlement outside of the court process.

Collaborative law is not right for everybody – but for those who suit it, appointing an experienced collaborative law solicitor can really make the whole divorce much less painful. Both family mediation and collaborative law work just as well in cases of civil partnership dissolution.

Phone today for advice from collaborative law experts

Our specialist divorce solicitors know how effective collaborative law can be and would be very happy to help you with any queries you have about the dispute resolution method.

So, call us today or send an email to advice@the–divorce-solicitors.co.uk.

Your divorce rights – what is a pension CETV? [cash equivalent transfer value]

A pension CETV is a cash equivalent transfer value which reflects on the capital value of the pension benefits which have been accrued within a pension scheme to date. It assumes that the member is leaving pensionable service and transferring their pension fund to another financial arrangement.

A pension CETV is the value of the funds transferred and accrued to date. It is sometimes suitable for achieving a fair valuation of any retirement benefits, particularly for straightforward money purchase schemes where a defined contribution is made and set up by your employer to provide their employees with a certain level of income when they reach retirement.

The CETV option isn’t so simple if you have more complex arrangements however, such as discretionary benefits provided by Trustees, spouses’ rights or death in service payments which can result in a CETV which isn’t fully valued.

For members who leave pension schemes early, a CETV is also used to calculate their benefits as it’s an easy method to use because it can be obtained by the pension providers, i.e. an employer pension or a private pension.

When calculating a final salary pension however, a CETV is calculated on the basis that the member immediately leaves or terminates their pension scheme by leaving service . This can distort the value of any benefits which are taken into consideration.

Assessing your valuation options

When dealing with complex pension schemes or Final Salary schemes in a divorce, it is often necessary to obtain specialist advice from a pension actuary. A pension actuary will be able to give a fair valuation of the pension, taking into account all of the benefits and will also be able to advise on how the pension can be divided to achieve, for example, equality of income in retirement, and further advise on suitable valuation of the pension for offsetting purposes.

Pensions and divorce – make sure you appoint a specialist solicitor

Dealing with pensions is one of the most tricky areas when it comes to divorce – and any mistake can prove incredibly expensive. Sadly, some divorce solicitors don’t seem as fully clued up about the importance of pensions, and particularly how they should be valued, as others. We suspect that, as a direct result, there will be a significant increase in the number of professional negligence claims made against divorce law solicitors who haven’t properly dealt with their clients pensions.

Rest assured that all of our divorce lawyers really understand the importance of pensions in divorce – and how those pensions work. If you’re worried about what could happen to your pension upon divorce – call our specialists today.

Or call us on the following numbers for FREE specialist advice

SALISBURY [01722] 422300

AMESBURY [01980] 622992

ANDOVER [01264] 364433