Expat Divorce

The standard advice on divorce if you are the wealthy party is to avoid the English Court as this will not be to your advantage financially.  Therefore wealthy expats often rush to issue divorce proceedings where they are resident, particularly if the country is another EU state where first past the post is conclusive.

However, what if you are an expat who is married to another EU national and you are living together outside of the EU?  If you have no (or limited) assets in England and a high income in your country of residence then it may be to your advantage to issue divorce proceedings in England.

This may seem counter intuitive when the English Court ordinarily has the power on divorce to make wide ranging financial orders against you.  However, if the English Court’s jurisdiction for divorce is based on your sole domicile, the English Court cannot make a maintenance order against you (unless your spouse moves to England).  They can of course make orders against your other assets but if these assets are joint or are based outside of England such an order is unlikely and/or may be ineffective.

Don’t forget that not all British expats are the same.  For example, different laws apply to England  and Scotland.  Therefore, one expat may have Scottish domicile and the other English domicile.  If you are an English expat married to a Scottish expat, with assets in your sole name and a high income it would be wise to issue divorce proceedings in Scotland as this may result in no financial order against you at all because the Scottish Court could not order you to pay maintenance and will allow you to keep the assets in your sole name.

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