A guide to cross-border divorce disputes

Divorce is frequently highly charged, a cross-border divorce where one party is an EU citizen it can be even more challenging.

In this guide, we look at how the effects of Brexit have affected some aspects of international divorce.  How EU law applies in the UK and vice versa. We will also outline how you can use alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in disputes arising from financial or child arrangements in cross-border divorce.

Click on a link to that section:

Find out whether the UK still needs to adhere to UK laws.

How Brexit has had an impact on international divorce laws.

Obtaining a divorce in the UK between EU and UK citizens.

Guide to using alternative dispute resolution for resolving a family dispute.

Find out how Giambrone & Partners can assist you in obtaining a divorce with an EU citizen.

We answer common queries related to obtaining a cross-border divorce.

How Does EU Law apply in the UK after Brexit?

Brexit has inevitably impacted on the laws of England & Wales - as the UK is no longer bound by many EU laws. Previously the lis pendens rule in cross-border divorce amounted to a race to be the first to petition for divorce in order to be able to select the jurisdiction. This has now been replaced by the forum conveniens rule meaning that the most appropriate jurisdiction is selected.  A court may reject a petition if it considers its jurisdiction is inappropriate. 

Has Brexit changed international divorce process laws?

A divorce will now be heard before a court deemed to have the “closest connection”, based on the nationalities of both parties, as well as where they reside, their domicile, where they work and also where their main home is, as well as where any children of the marriage attend school. The divorce proceedings will proceed in what is considered to be the most appropriate jurisdiction, this sometimes may lead to higher legal fees if there is a dispute as to which is the most appropriate jurisdiction.

Processes for obtaining an international divorce?

If you are seeking to divorce an EU citizen, you can only begin your proceedings in England & Wales if the courts have jurisdiction. When seeking an international divorce, you are strongly advised to be advised by a lawyer with expertise in international divorce.  who will advise on the jurisdiction that the courts will view most favourably and explain all the implications of a cross-border divorce including which documents you will need to obtain, including your birth certificates, marriage certificate, proof of finances and address, passport(s) and the birth certificates of any children of the marriage.

Using alternative dispute resolution in an international family dispute relating to divorce

A divorce is often contentious, particularly involving highly charged issues such as custody of children and financial settlements; the reasons behind a divorce alone can lead to a breakdown in communication. There are options available to enable the parties to settle disputes and calm the situation. Mediation, may be suitable if communication is difficult to achieve without the situation escalating. An independent mediator will help to facilitate a calm discussion between you and your former spouse, allowing you both to voice your positions and come to a mutually beneficial arrangement that can allow the legal divorce proceedings to be carried out in a more reasonable manner.

If mediation does not result in a solution and you are unable to reach a decision regarding a dispute, then arbitration may be your next step. With arbitration, your discussions will be similarly supported by an impartial arbitrator, however, in this instance the arbitrator can come to a legal decision upon hearing both sides of the dispute. In this way, the decision is taken out of your hands. Both of these methods are cheaper, quicker, and less stressful than litigation. However, these methods may not be suitable in more extreme circumstances, where it may be necessary to progress to court proceedings immediately.

Find out more about handling a cross-border divorce and how Giambrone & Partners can help.

Help from experts in cross-border family law Daniel Theron, who heads the divorce and family law team, together with our highly experienced lawyers could be vital in ensuring that your route to cross-border divorce goes as smoothly as possible. We will be able to explain all your options, including how laws relating to divorce may differ in EU nations. Daniel Theron

Contact Giambrone & Partners

Do you need support with a cross-border divorce, or a dispute regarding your divorce? We will be able to support you with the process of a divorce, as well as advising you in resolving any potential disputes that arise. We have experience working in multiple-jurisdictions and can help you to navigate a cross-border divorce.

Please click here callback request page for legal advice and assistance.

Common queries

Has Brexit changed international child arrangements?

Brexit means that EU law is no longer relevant for the family courts of England & Wales, and child arrangements are now governed by the 1996 Hague Convention.

What type of conflicts can be mediated?

Issues related to divorce or to custody arrangements can be mediated. 

How do you know if your prenuptial agreement is fair?

A fair prenuptial agreement should safeguard and protect the assets of both parties, without favouring one party unduly.  A prenuptial agreement sets out the views of the couple prior to marriage and is persuasive in the event of divorce.

Could child inclusive mediation help you agree on child arrangements?

Child inclusive mediation may not always be suitable. However, the courts may take the opinion of children over the age of 12 years into consideration. It can help to agree on child arrangements if the child meets with the mediator to discuss their own feelings and what they hope to happen following their parents’ divorce. Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) also will advise the court with regard to the well-being of children.

Will your declaration of trust remain valid after marriage?

Your declaration of trust is not voided due to divorce.

Which laws apply to your divorce or separation?

The laws that apply to your divorce or separation are based on the jurisdiction under which your divorce proceedings are carried out.

Does Brexit change rules for parental child abduction?

Brexit has not substantially changed the rules for parental child abduction - both parties must consent if a child is taken to another country by a parent, even for a short period of time.

Can the family court order supporting guidance to assist parental contact arrangements?

The family court can order support such as parenting courses, support for separated parents, and a family assistance order.

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