International Divorce – What Is It And How Does It Work?

by Tim Bishop on January 26, 2014

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More and more people are moving abroad and pursuing cross-cultural relationships and marriages than ever before, and because of this, the number of international legal disputes concerning families is also on the rise. What happens if your relationship breaks down while overseas? What if you and your partner are from different countries? What if you’re living in a different country to the one you were married in? International divorce can be a confusing and complex situation (especially when there are children involved), but here are some of the basics to help you if you find yourself in a divorce predicament either in Europe or outside of it.

Where Should You Initiate Divorce Proceedings?

Depending on where you’re from, where your spouse is from, and where you’re currently living, the country in which you initiate divorce proceedings could differ in terms of financial settlements and other issues, compared to other countries. The law relating to marriage and divorce are likely to differ too, so in-depth research will be required. In terms of Europe, the jurisdiction of each country is different, and you will need to consider several factors before choosing where to initiate proceedings. A member state of the EU will be able to deal with the divorce if both the husband and wife are nationals of that state, or if one or both of them are residents of that state (some areas require a minimum period of residence for this term to be applicable).

When Is The Right Time To Initiate Divorce Proceedings?

The quick answer to this is as soon as possible; seek independent advice from a specialist  international divorce law firm promptly – especially if your divorce involves another European country. For example, if you have a close connection with a country (you’re from there originally or your family live there, for instance), then you will need to initiate the divorce proceedings in that country before your spouse initiates them in another country (for example, where you’ve been living or where your partner is from). Whichever country starts off the proceedings will deal with the whole divorce, even if your ties to that country aren’t strong. This is known as “Brussels II” and a specialist international divorce lawyer will be able to tell you more about it [but, in brief, it is a European Union Regulation dealing with issues surrounding any conflict of law in family law between EU members]. As each European country is different, the choice of where you initiate the divorce proceedings could mean a difference of many thousands of pounds. This information has led to recent couples ‘racing’ each other for divorce in a specific European country [a phenomenon known as forum shopping], but if possible, it’s well worth considering forms of alternative dispute resolution such as family mediation services in an attempt to stop your divorce from spiralling out of control with increased legal costs and huge levels of stress.

International Divorce – The Need For Expert Help

Before you make any decision in relation to your divorce, it is vital that you seek professional help from a law firm which specialises in international divorce and whose laswyers will be able to give you the expert help and advice you are going to need during this stressful period of your life.

Tim Bishop is senior partner of Bonallack and Bishop – a UK law firm whose specialist divorce team regularly deal with international divorce and family law problems involving foreign nationality. For more information about international divorce and how they can help you, visit their specialist website at or call them on 01722 422300.

Tim Bishop
Having qualified as a Solicitor in 1986, Tim Bishop is a legal entrepreneur who owns law firm Bonallack & Bishop. Find out why you should choose the solicitors at Bonallack & Bishop: Visit
Tim Bishop

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