In an ever shrinking world with a greater number of international relationships, there is inevitably a greater number on international divorces. The rules governing service in family proceedings are contained in Part 6 of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 (FPR 2010)and the supporting practice directions (FPR 2010 and PD6). The rules about the service of application forms, notices and other documents in family proceedings out of the jurisdiction of England and Wales, and the procedure for service, is contained in chapter 4 of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 (FPR 2010).
The FPR 2010 sets out that:
‘Any document to be served for the purposes of these rules may be served out of the jurisdiction without the permission of the court.’
Pursuant to FPR 2010 rule 6.43(3), a document may be served out of the jurisdiction by any method:
(a) provided for by –
(i) rule 6.44 (service in accordance with the Service Regulation);
(ii) rule 6.45 (service through foreign governments, judicial authorities and British Consular authorities); or
(b) permitted by the law of the country in which it is to be served.
Documents can be served out of the jurisdiction without the permission of the court. The rules differ depending on where service is intended to take place, and tend to include a longer time limit for acknowledging service. The general rule is that where the applicant wishes to serve a document on a respondent outside of the United Kingdom, it may be served by any method provided for specifically by the rules in relation to the Service Regulation or the use of foreign governments, judicial authorities and British Consular authorities, or by any method permitted by the law of the country in which it is to be served. There is a detailed table setting out the different time limits in FPR 2010, PD 6B.
International divorce proceedings and the technical rules surrounding this issue are complex. In circumstances that see parties racing to issue first, essentially as a means to secure their preference when “forum shopping“, it is clearly not an issue that can a party can stumble over and mismanage. 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.