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Enforcement of Foreign Financial Orders

I have been divorced in the European Union.­ Will England recognise it?

A divorce granted in accordance with the law of another member state of the European Union will almost always be automatically recognised.­ A certificate of divorce in the EU, properly translated and certified, is good across the whole of the EU.

Can I enforce my English final financial order abroad?

First, the English family court has power to make an order in respect of assets abroad including real properties abroad.­

Enforcement depends on the order and where it is going to be enforced.­ Many international enforcement arrangements distinguish between maintenance and other financial obligations.­ Maintenance is interpreted widely, beyond pure alimony, spousal maintenance provision.­ It is interpreted often as “needs”.­ However it does not cover division of assets based on fairness sharing rather than providing for needs.­ Enforcing such fairness-sharing division of property arrangements against foreign assets can be more difficult.

There is some international co-operation with many reciprocal arrangements on recovery of maintenance obligations.­ Some reciprocal arrangements are rather historic, outmoded and only occasionally exercised.­ In contrast there are reciprocal arrangements across Europe (the EU Maintenance Regulation) although only for maintenance (needs).­ Between some countries, it is possible to pursue claims quickly in the country in which the payer is working.­ Between some other countries, there can be a relatively complicated procedure involving the government organisations of the two countries.­ Good legal advice needs to be taken, including in advance of the final settlement if possible.­ It is important to be conscious of the costs of the exercise in relation to the likely recovery.­ There is a very good Government Department, known as REMO, which gives assistance on reciprocal enforcement abroad.

Many countries cooperate on orders regarding the transfer of real property.­ In practice, this is made much easier if, in advance of the final financial order, any dealings with the real property have been prevented or frozen.

Within Europe, cross-border laws have made it relatively easier directly to enforce consent lump sum orders in the country in which relevant assets are situated.

Although the English Child Support Agency (now C-MEC) rarely deals with international families, there is co-operation between such agencies in other countries.

Whilst there is increasing international co-operation on enforcement, there is still no substitute for freezing assets in advance and/or seeking orders against onshore assets.­ Planning implementation and any enforcement before the final settlement is very wise.


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