Property rights and international divorce

The recent Anglo-French case of Y v Y highlights the importance of seeking legal advice before moving countries – particularly from a country where a marriage contract is determinative. The English Court continues to grapple with the extent to which such marriage contracts should be binding on it. Whilst it seems clear that the Court will not limit someone’s needs (for example for maintenance or a home) as a result of an agreement, there are also contrasting decisions about whether an agreement about rights to property is binding.

Each case is fact specific and it cannot be assumed that because 1) a marriage contract is between two nationals of the same country and 2) the agreement was made in their home country, it is therefore binding on the English Court.

Where possible, it is important to consider entering into a further English law agreement before moving here which (a) confirms the party’s property rights and (b) fixes jurisdiction and the applicable law for maintenance (needs) with the country of their nationality. It is important to seek advice from an international divorce specialist on such an agreement. Alternatively, seek urgent advice as to whether any divorce can be dealt with outside of England.

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