International Property and Divorce

06 July 2017

If a couple choose to start divorce proceedings in the UK, either because one or both of them live there or they consider themselves to have significant ties to the UK, the division of international property can be dealt with in the UK Courts.

Financial Orders in Divorce

When a relationship breaks down, and steps are taken to dissolve the marriage, financial matters such as the division of assets, both in the UK and abroad, will need to be addressed separately. A divorce will only dissolve the marriage, it does not deal with financial assets. To set out what will happen to property, money and other assets, you’ll need to get a Financial Order from the Court.

The Court will exercise its discretion to make a ruling on what should happen to property abroad by considering the law as set out in the Matrimonial Causes Act.

The financial circumstances of both the person applying for the Financial Order (the Applicant) and the other person (the Respondent) will be taken into consideration before approving a Financial Order, even where the application is made by consent. This will include not only available assets, such as bank accounts and property, but also income and outgoings, liabilities and savings.

Property and Divorce

With respect to property held either in the UK or abroad, the UK Courts are able to make a Property Adjustment Order, which is an Order regarding a change to the ownership of a property. This could relate to the transfer of a whole property, or of part of it.

Where the transfer of property has been agreed between the divorcing couple, the Order can be drawn into a Consent Order which is signed by both people. Information relating to the property abroad must be provided prior to the Order being signed, as there will need to be disclosure relating to each person’s equity in the property. It is important to be transparent regarding property both in the UK and abroad at this stage. Failing to do so can prolong the matter and considerably increase legal fees.

The main obstacle that divorcing couples may face is one of enforcement. This is when an Order relating to international property made by Courts in the UK must be taken to the jurisdiction in question in order to be enforced.

If this happens it’s advisable to instruct Solicitors of that jurisdiction to assist with the enforcement of a Final Order. A well-drafted Order will address this and consider how to enforce an Order, even if the person who is subject to the Order leaves the jurisdiction.

Our International Divorce Solicitors are highly experienced in dealing with cross-border and international divorce cases, particularly for British expats living in Spain, the EU, USA, UAE, Australia, Canada, China, Singapore, South Africa and the Sudan.

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