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Italian couples using bogus British residency for quickie divorce

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Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division, was asked to overturn the decrees nisi and decrees absolute of 180 Italian couples who fraudulently claimed residency in the country for a speedy divorce, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Court officials spotted the scam when it was unveiled that the same address of High Street, Maidenhead, Berks was listed as the home address in 179 cases. The address turned out to be a post box.

Couples from catholic Italy have to be legally separated for three years to be granted a divorce in their home country. However, the country’s legal system recognises decrees absolute granted from other European Union member states, where divorces come with a much cheaper price tag.

After obtaining foreign residency, most European Union members allow to file for divorce after six months, with Romania, in particular, reportedly becoming a destination of choice for Italian divorce tourists.

Under the law in England and Wales, a person seeking divorce in the local courts has to have been habitually resident in England or Wales for a period of at least one year.  It’s illegal to use fake residency to be obtain a divorce in England and Wales.

If “divorce tourism” is going on in the UK, it calls to mind the popular divorce ranches in the USA. From the early 1900s to about the mid-1970s, Reno, Nevada was the divorce capital of the United States. Most states made it difficult to get a divorce and had up to a three year waiting period.

However, Nevadans could choose from nine different options as facts for their divorce, including a predecessor to today’s “unreasonable behaviour”. If you were from out-of-state, you had to establish residency in Nevada for six weeks prior to applying for divorce. So began the era of divorce ranches, luxury dude ranches in Nevada, where people could relax while they waited for their six weeks to be up. Could Maidenhead be the new Reno?

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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