Divorce is a traumatic experience whenever it occurs, but the problems and emotional turmoil is compounded when one or both parties are living or working abroad. Many ex-pats facing separation and divorce feel alone and helpless, due to the normal avenues of legal advice, counseling and support seeming many miles away. Ex-pats also have the extra worry of trying to cope with a foreign legal system and bureaucracy, plus divorce lawyers that might not even speak your language.
The good news is that you don’t need to worry – as a citizen of England and Wales, you are still entitled to have your divorce within the English courts system, whether or not you are currently a UK resident, because legally you are still ‘domiciled’ in the UK, meaning you have a legal connection with the country and are still under the jurisdiction of the English courts for matters such as divorce. As long as you are considered domiciled in the UK, then it does not matter how many years you may have lived abroad.
With this in mind, it is reassuring to know that legal services exist to make expat divorces as smooth and uncomplicated as possible. With the right help you can go from initial petition to final decree in just 16 weeks, with no court appearances necessary.
The only complications that can occur concern the division of assets – property, pensions and other financial holdings. This takes place after the divorce is granted and is best dealt with informally between the two parties concerned, with the aid of legal representatives when necessary. A full-on legal matrimonial assets case is to be avoided if at all possible, as they are both lengthy and costly. To complicate matters further, assets held abroad have to be assigned by the courts of the country in question, making engaging the services of a local lawyer essential.