Where Should I Get Divorced?

Author:Ms Tanya Roberts
Profession:Charles Russell LLP
 
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Until very recently, if divorcing couples had a choice of country from which to issue divorce proceedings, the decision as to which was the most appropriate country was often fraught with difficulties, not to mention costly. Couples seeking to divorce would typically receive specialist advice on the sort of settlement they could expect to receive in both countries. Difficulties arose when the couple both issued proceedings, and unless the choice of country was obvious or the settlement in each country was going to be roughly similar, a court would have to decide which country would handle the case.

Previously divorce proceedings could be issued in England if either the husband or wife was domiciled here when the proceedings began or if either party was habitually resident here for one year immediately before the proceedings began. In the UK "Habitual Residence" means ordinarily resident and "Domicile" is the relationship between a person and a state or country. Everyone has a "domicile of origin" acquired at birth which can be replaced by a "domicile of choice" if a you go to live in another country intending to stay there for an indefinite time, and don't intend to return to live permanently in the country you've left.

However from March of this year the law was simplified in relation to Europe, or to be more accurate, in relation to Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK. These member states signed a new Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in matrimonial matters and in relation to matters of parental responsibility for children of both spouses entitled "Brussels II".

It means that the English court now accepts a Petition filed for divorce under one of the following conditions: where the spouses are both habitually resident in England and Wales; where they were last habitually resident in England and Wales insofar as one of them still lives here; where the Respondent (the person responding to the proceedings) is habitually resident in England and Wales or if the Petitioner (the person initiating the proceedings for divorce) is habitually resident in England and Wales (meaning that he or she must have resided in England and Wales for at least one year immediately before the presentation of the Petition, or if the Petitioner is also domiciled in England or Wales, he or she must have resided here for at least six months before the...

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