Because the Mogers family team have collectively lived in countries such as Hong Kong, The Philippines and Nigeria we know it is hard enough to know where to turn to for a decent plumber, let alone specialist advice on matrimonial and family problems.
For those separating on British shores help is at hand in the form of Resolution – an organisation specifically set up by English family lawyers to help point separating couples in the right direction. However, in the event of a marriage or relationship breakdown between expatriates abroad, it is more difficult to know where to turn to. They will find themselves going through great anxiety facing questions such as “will I be able to stay here”, “who will sponsor the children and provide visas” and “what am I entitled to”. This is in addition to the normal emotions during a separation i.e. guilt, anger, sorrow and vulnerability. The sooner these issues are resolved, the better.
We often deal with enquiries that follow the pattern mentioned above. On a first meeting with a client we give an early consideration to the issue of jurisdiction. What is the appropriate forum for proceedings to be commenced? Jurisdictions to consider would be that of the client’s home country, the partner’s home country, or the jurisdiction of the host country if this is different.
Jurisdiction will largely depend on nationality, domicile and habitual residence of both parties. British expatriates are often unaware that divorce and financial matters can be dealt with swiftly through the English courts, without them even leaving the host country. A divorce is routinely carried out on paper, without attendance. It is not, as often thought, necessary to divorce in the place in which you were married.
Jurisdiction is a complex issue, and requires detailed consideration. Lengthy delays to any proceedings, amicable or otherwise, can take place if matters are commenced in the wrong jurisdiction. It is also important to be aware from the outset of the enforceability of any orders that are obtained. Some orders made by the English Courts may not be enforceable in the host country if they conflict with local laws. If separating couples seek comprehensive advice on all these aspects at an early stage, they can increase the likelihood of an amicable and swift resolution of the issues between them.
As in life, the key to a good marriage is compromise. The same can be applied to separation and divorce. Both parties must compromise with each other and to avoid the entire family becoming embroiled in a lengthy, costly and upsetting period; each party must try and continue to consider the feelings, needs and the rights of the other party.