British woman allowed to apply for financial relief after Bulgarian divorce

Divorce|July 31st 2014

A British woman has been given permission to apply for financial relief after her divorce in Bulgaria.

In Barnett v Barnett, the couple were married for over 40 years. For the majority of their married life, they lived in Stoke-on-Trent but relocated to Bulgaria in 2009.

The marriage broke down in 2012 and the following year their divorce was finalised in Bulgaria.

The wife claimed she was entitled to a share in her ex-husband’s British miner’s pension as the only income she had was the British state old age pension.

She was not awarded a share during the divorce because the Bulgarian court said it had “no power or jurisdiction in relation to this British miner’s pension”. As a result, she had to go through the English courts.

Under section 13 of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984, an application for financial relief cannot be made without the court’s permission. The section also states that there needs to be “substantial ground” to allow an application.

However, section 15 states that the English courts can only have jurisdiction in financial relief cases if one of the spouses was “domiciled in England and Wales on the date of the application for leave” or when the foreign divorce was finalised.

Mr Justice Holman said the woman was in a “Catch 22” position as she could not afford to return to England permanently without a share of her husband’s pension.

He added that, in these circumstances, “it is strongly arguable (and I put it no higher for the purposes of the present hearing) that she retains her English domicile of origin”.

The judge ruled that it was “clear” there was substantial ground for the woman’s application, so he “unhesitatingly” granted her permission.

Photo of the Bulgarian flag by Timon91 via Flickr

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  1. Maria MacGrath says:

    I have been to 6 different lawyers here in Spain and the UK. My husband and I with our 2 children moved to Spain 10 years a go. Most of the time I was alone as he continued to work in the UK but then he had himself relocated to Hong Kong, he never really moved his belongings to Spain. About 2 and half years a go my husband and i went out for dinner to talk about our marriage, it was at the state of separation and we needed to talk about what to do. Before we met for dinner I had found some letters from another woman indicating that they had had an affair 4 years before. When at dinner I told him of the letters, in this he stood up and told me the marriage was over and walk out. He’s been in deny ever since about his affair’s and even deny’s he received 1.2 million from shares and even tried to deny that he had bought another house in the UK without me knowing about it, but I had the paper work on it. He still controls my life, doesn’t want a divorce, and won’t share anything that we have achieved in our 14 years of marriage. I am 53 and he is 47. I just want for us to share everything 50 50, my career is non excitant and he loves working more than anything. When we met before we married we both had nothing, he had a divorce and a son which he had walked out on and we both worked, I gave up working because it was what he wanted when our son was born 14 years a go. The lawyers tell me here in Spain that I might get half the house that I and the children have lived for 10 years and child maintenance. I have been told by the UK lawyers to try and go back to the UK to divorce as I won’t get a fair hearing here in Spain. This has been going on for over 2 years, I feel trapped and totally alone and scared and have no idea what the future holds for me. I can’t go back to the UK has I have nowhere to live, although he has bought a million pound house that sits empty. My mother who is very ill and needs me to help care for her because there isn’t anyone else, I can’t even afford a flight and can’t really leave my children alone in Spain. He is now self employed and I just don’t know what to do. He has said that we need to build up trust again to allow us to sort out everything but I don’t trust him. Also by me allowing him to stay here in the house is a start of the trust thing and allowing to take the children on holiday which I have otherwise he won’t pay the bills on the house. Please please can you help.

    • lily renfrew says:

      oh maria… you have my best wishes. hope things work out for you. am also in final stages of divorcing a slippery brit – must be something in the water.

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