International families are becoming increasingly common as the world reopens to travel after the global pandemic. Nowadays it isn’t uncommon for a couple to get divorced in a country where they are living and for a husband or wife to then want to see if they can get a divorce financial settlement in England.
In this article, international family lawyer and divorce financial settlement solicitor, Robin Charrot, looks at when you can get a divorce financial settlement in England where you got divorced overseas.
Financial settlement claims after an overseas divorce
Even if you got divorced abroad you may be able to ask the court in England for a financial settlement as part of your divorce. This may be the case whether you got a foreign financial court order or you got no divorce financial settlement overseas.
The law on divorce financial settlements and foreign divorces
The law on divorce financial settlements after foreign divorces is contained in part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984. The law allows some people to bring a financial claim in England even though their divorce took place overseas.
The law is designed to protect spouses whose partners have rushed to start divorce proceedings in a country where they know that their husband or wife will get a reduced financial settlement in comparison to what an English court would order.
Can I apply for a divorce financial settlement after my overseas divorce?
You can only apply for a divorce financial settlement in the UK if you got divorced abroad and the foreign divorce court either made no financial court order or it was not sufficient. In addition, you must satisfy these three eligibility criteria:
- You have sufficient connection to England
- Your divorce is valid legally
- You have not remarried
If you satisfy these three eligibility criteria you need to make a court application for permission to pursue an application under the 1984 Act.
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Sufficient connection to England
Sufficient connection to England is the eligibility criteria that raises most questions and where disputes over an application under part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 tend to focus.
Sufficient connection with England can be demonstrated by one of:
- You or your ex was domiciled in England at the time of the overseas divorce or at the time of the application
- You or your ex was habitually resident in England for 12 months before the date on which the overseas divorce was finalised or for 12 months before the date of the application
- You or your ex has an interest in a property in England that was the family home or matrimonial home. You do not need to be the legal owner of the property to make a claim but if court jurisdiction is based solely on the existence of an interest in property your claim is limited to the value of the property
Domicile and habitual residence are complex legal concepts and whether you are domiciled or habitually resident in England will depend on your circumstances. For advice on jurisdiction to bring a claim after an overseas divorce call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
How does the English court decide on a divorce financial settlement after an overseas divorce?
The English court has discretion to make a financial settlement once you have leave to make your application. To succeed in your application, you need to be able to show that you tried to get reasonable financial provision in the foreign country and you either received no divorce financial settlement or the award was unreasonable.
The court can order the transfer or sale of property, a lump sum payment, spousal maintenance or a pension sharing order.
Sometimes when a couple have agreed a divorce financial settlement overseas, they need a UK pension sharing order to implement the pension share of an English pension scheme and this can be achieved using the 1984 Act.
Foreign divorces and divorce financial settlement claims are not easy and that is why you need specialist legal advice from a family law solicitor with expertise in international family law.