Divorce in the English courts is a Popular Option

The London divorce courts are noted for fairness and the generosity of the English courts makes the UK a highly popular destination for divorce.  However, it is extremely important to be represented by a legal team that has knowledge of and the language of both jurisdictions to achieve the best possible outcome.

The starting point for the financial arrangements arising from a divorce is 50/50 with child-rearing and homemaking considered of equal importance to breadwinning.  There is the added feature of being able to keep the details of both the people involved and the amount of the award private. 

In order to be able to divorce in the UK courts the following criteria must be met:

The criteria to be fulfilled before such an application can be made are:

  1. at the time of the foreign decree, at least one of the parties to the marriage must have been domiciled in England and Wales, or,
  2. at least one of the parties was habitually resident in England and Wales for one year preceding the application or decree, or,
  3. at least one of the parties is entitled to a beneficial interest in a property in England and Wales that was once the matrimonial home (in which case the court is confined to dealing with the property in question).

The application is made in two stages, known as the filter mechanism; in the first place, an application is made for leave under s.13 and R3.17 FPR.  The court must consider two things once permission has been granted: 

  1. First, whether it is appropriate for a UK court to make the order the applicant is seeking.
  2. If the answer is “yes” the court goes on to consider all of the circumstances of the case, including all the relevant factors that the court would normally consider at the start of financial relief proceedings.  Including the financial resources of the parties, the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage and their competing financial needs. The English court has the power to ‘revisit’ the case and is given recourse to the full range of remedies the court usually has available to it.


The London divorce courts appear to be moving closer to the principle of a “no fault” divorce.  Observation suggests that the requirement for a ground for divorce, the most popular being unreasonable behaviour, leads individuals to exaggerate claims of “unreasonableness”.  The Nuffield Foundation commissioned Professor Liz Trinder of Exeter University to research how the current divorce laws are working, the first such study since the 1980s.  The conclusions were that fault should be completely removed from divorce petitions.  The divorce petition is frequently an inaccurate reflection of the reasons for the marriage breakdown and the courts can make no reliable judgement as to the truthfulness of the allegations.  The difficulty the court experiences has been highlighted in the case of Owens –v- Owens where Mrs. Owens attempted to obtain a divorce from her husband on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour, a ground that was challenged by Mr. Owens; no doubt he was spurred to challenge the allegation in light of the fact that Mrs. Owens had been involved in an adulterous affair.  The court found that Mr. Owen’s behaviour was not sufficiently bad to amount to unreasonable behaviour and the Court of Appeal upheld the decision.  It remains to be seen what will happen in the Supreme Court.   If a “no fault” provision comes about it may make the process of divorce less contentious and remove the potential for argument.

The bi-lingual lawyers at Giambrone are extremely experienced in cross-border divorce and will be able to assist you gain the best possible outcome from a difficult situation.

For further information about cross-border divorce please email clientservices@giambronelaw.com or telephone 020 7183 9482