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Jurisdiction Choice

Deciding where to divorce

There are many people and families who have close connections to more than one country, either because they were born or married outside of England and Wales or lived or worked abroad before or during their marriage. When your relationship breaks down you may therefore be able to bring a divorce in more than one country.

It is important to identify this at an early stage because financial and other outcomes vary hugely from one country to another. Specialist family law advice can help you identify those countries which may be able to deal with your divorce and then choose the ‘best’ jurisdiction for you. This process is known as “forum shopping”.

When speed is essential

Where there are potentially other countries involved, time is often of the essence and it may be necessary to act very quickly. Within Europe, the general rule is that the country in which the divorce proceedings are first issued seizes jurisdiction, regardless of where there is the closest connection. Who issues first is also a relevant, although this carries less weight in other parts of the world.

It is important that you do not advise your husband, wife or civil partner that you are considering divorce or else they may also seek to issue proceedings in the country most advantageous to them.

International reach

We work closely with many specialist family lawyers around the world on behalf of our clients to ensure that they are able to obtain specialist advice from other family lawyers – and act with speed when necessary. For example, we have a close association with Watts McCray, one of Australia’s leading family law firms.


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