Multinational couple chase divorce through the English courts

Divorce|Family Law|News|July 29th 2013

A Dutch woman who launched proceedings against her estranged Swedish husband has failed in her bid to pursue a settlement in the English courts.

In the recently published case of N v N, the woman had married her former husband in Las Vegas. The couple were well-to-do and split their time between homes in Sweden and Spain. They occasionally visited the UK but did not own a home here.

The marriage broke down and the wife then relocated to the UK to start her own business. Meanwhile, the husband launched divorce proceedings in the Swedish courts. However, the wife chose to ignore these and instead launched her own proceedings in the English courts. The husband in turn ignored these proceedings but the case proceeded anyway and the wife was granted a decree nisi. She applied for maintenance payments under Section 27 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

Her estranged husband then applied to have this decree nisi set aside, asking the English courts to conclude that they lacked legal authority (jurisdiction) to pursue the case. The wife insisted she was in financial need, saying she intended to apply for ‘interim’ maintenance payments prior to a formal agreement.

The man offered £1,500 per month in interim payments to his ex-wife, plus an additional £5,000 to help her launch a full maintenance application in Sweden. She countered with a demand for £6,000 per month, plus payment of all her legal costs.

Sitting in the Family Division, Mr Justice Moor concluded that the English courts lacked the proper legal authority to pursue the case and should decline jurisdiction as the husband had requested. To do so would be in keeping with Brussels II Revised, an EU regulation governing jurisdiction in international family law cases. As the man’s financial interests were located in Sweden, that was the appropriate venue for the financial hearings to take place.

Mr Justice Moor ordered the wife to pay the costs of the English proceedings at the conclusion of the settlement.

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