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Five Things International Families Need to Know

Consultant Solicitor

The breakdown of a relationship is always very difficult for all those involved. Aside from the emotional fallout of the relationship there are the practical worries about where they will live or what the arrangements for the children will be.

International families can face additional challenges at what is already a difficult time. Here are some of the key things that you need to know:

  1. You may have a choice about which country in which to bring divorce proceedings.

    In order to assess the best place for you to proceed it is likely that you will need to take advice from specialist family lawyers in more than one country. This will involve you evaluating the potential advantages and disadvantages of proceeding in each country.

  2. You may need to act quickly.

    Within Europe whoever issues the divorce proceedings first, in whichever country, means that the divorce will take automatically take place there. This is irrespective of where the family’s assets are or where they have the most connection.

    Outside of the EU, who issued first is not determinative of where the divorce will take place but it is one factor that the courts will consider. Therefore if you and your husband or wife have agreed to separate it may be necessary for you to act very quickly to ensure that the divorce takes place where you wish for it to do so before your husband or wife does so.

  3. Mediation and other methods of alternate dispute resolution may be inappropriate.

    Whereas family lawyers usually heavily promote the use of mediation and other methods of family law dispute resolution it may be very unwise to do so in international cases. Writing to your husband or wife to suggest mediation may be sufficient to prompt the other party to take action in a less advantageous country. It may be that once proceedings are established this is something that can be suggested at a later stage.

  4. It’s not all about the money.

    When considering where to proceed with a divorce people’s primary concern is usually where they will receive the best financial outcome but this is just one of the factors you must consider. Amongst other things you must also have regard to the likely costs in each country, how long the proceedings will take, whether your divorce will be recognised in the other relevant countries and whether the financial order will be enforceable.

  5. You will need to talk tactics

    International cases can be very tactical. It is important that you receive specialist international family law advice at a very early stage.


Hannah Budd - Consultant Solicitor


Hannah is a specialist family law solicitor with extensive experience of international family law matters. Read more about Hannah here.

To arrange an initial fixed fee appointment to talk to Hannah about your specific situation please request a consultation via our request consultation page or call us on: +44 (0)203 405 8390.

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