Forum shopping for divorce

Any family law proceedings involving an international element must first consider the legal forum in which it is best to progress a client’s case. When considering this, divorce proceedings cannot be considered in isolation. Ordinarily, little objection is raised to the location of a prospective divorce court, providing the divorce is internationally recognised. However, the forum selected for financial remedy proceedings plays a hugely persuasive role in determining the progression of litigation.

In England and Wales, the court holds the power to make financial orders after the pronouncement of an overseas divorce, under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984. Therefore, the dissolution of the marriage or civil partnership overseas does not necessarily result in a bar to financial proceedings taking place in England and Wales. It is imperative to consider this issue, given that prolonged complex and expensive divorce and financial remedy proceedings overseas might merely be followed by another hard-fought and expensive (and potentially ruinous!) application under the 1984 act.

In assessing the appropriate forum for a case – acting swiftly and decisively is key. It is imperative that an early assessment regarding the possible range of financial outcomes in the various potential jurisdictions. This is particularly vital if there is a competing jurisdiction within the EU. Under EC Regulation 2201/2003, if a party commences divorce proceedings in an EU member state covered by Brussels II (Revised), the court of the member state which first handles the matter gains exclusive jurisdiction.

In order to make a quick, informed and advantageous decision about a competing legal forum, a party should contact a family lawyer in the competing jurisdiction and seek their advice on potential outcomes, costs and the broad application of law in that forum.

Serving London, Bedford and the surrounding villages, our lawyers can help you with your divorce and family law matters. If you would like to speak to one of our solicitors to discuss your case, contact us today on 0207 177 9777 or 01234 889777.

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