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  • What is jurisdiction?

    Put simply, jurisdiction is the country in which court proceedings relating to your divorce, financial matters and children issues will be dealt with.

  • Where will my divorce be heard?

    That depends. If you are living within the European Union, when it comes to divorce, you have to consider the ‘race for jurisdiction’. In such cases, your divorce will be heard in whichever country within the EU the papers are filed in first, provided you have an appropriate connection with that country.

    The courts in that country will then have jurisdiction over your case and any decisions about financial settlements will be made using that nation’s laws.

    If you live outside the EU, then different rules apply as to whether that country should have jurisdiction or the courts in England and Wales. It may not be a case of who was first to issue but instead which country is the most appropriate and relevant place for the divorce to be dealt with. These issues are complex and it is very important that you seek advice as early as possible.

  • How is jurisdiction determined?

    You cannot simply do some research and pick a country where you think the divorce laws will be kindest to you and start proceedings there.

    You must demonstrate a connection to the nation you submit your application in. This can be done in a number of ways. For example, if both you and your spouse are habitually resident in the country in question or if you are a national of a country or it is your country of domicile.

  • What is habitual residence?

    Habitual residence is a complicated concept. In simple terms, it is related to the country where a person lives, but to be “habitually resident” in a country has different implications depending on the type of legal case you are involved in. In many cases, the term is based on someone’s “centre of interests”, or whichever jurisdiction a person is most closely associated with.

  • So where is the best place to divorce?

    This is another complex issue. No two countries have exactly the same divorce laws so deciding which one to file in is no easy task. You must consider what assets you have and how differently they could be divided depending on where the case his heard.

    To determine this, you will need to seek out legal advice from professionals who specialise in international family law. They will be able to give you an idea of the pros and cons of issuing proceedings in England and so that this can be compared to the position in other jurisdictions. This advice is vital. If you make a decision about which country to go ahead in without accurate information, you may find it difficult to get a fair settlement when the process is completed. Selecting a jurisdiction which is favourable to you is sometimes called forum shopping.

  • What about my finances?

    In England and Wales, the divorce process is separate from the financial settlement. This means that you can be divorced without having achieved a financial settlement. Also, the court will not make any orders in relation to your financial arrangements unless it is asked to do so either by court proceedings being commenced or by you filing with the court an agreed settlement in the form of a consent order.

    The divorce process can be different in other jurisdictions and it may not be possible to conclude your divorce without the financial matters being resolved at the same time.


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