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Why is it important to seek early advice when considering a divorce in the EU?

Thursday, 18 June 2015

clip_image001The process of divorce is never pleasant and spouses will often seek to get proceedings over as quickly as possible. However, timeliness can be particularly important in international divorce cases. Here we will explain why.

As of 2001, EU regulations were introduced which meant that the first spouse to begin divorce proceedings would be able to choose which country their divorce takes place in. As many countries treat divorce settlements differently to each other, this could in theory benefit one spouse over the other and therefore it is critical to seek legal advice quickly when dealing with an international divorce.

To date, 27 countries in the EU are in agreement with these regulations including France, Germany, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Spain, Poland and Portugal. However, in order to petition for divorce there, they must either live in the country they are applying to, have lived there recently or their spouse must still be living in that country.

So what effect can your spouse choosing the country where the divorce will take place have? Firstly, unlike the UK, many countries including areas of continental Europe and America view prenuptials as legally enforceable, provided that legal advice was sought before agreeing to them. So in this instance, it may benefit one of the parties to choose where the divorce takes place, for example in the UK so that the prenuptial agreements are not upheld.

Another effect the ‘first in time’ provision can have is on finances. Although the UK is quite generous with awarding maintenance costs to spouses, other European countries are not so accommodating. Conversely, some European courts will apply a mandatory percentage of the spouse’s income when making a decision on finances.

If you believe that your spouse may be preparing to start divorce proceedings in another country, or if you wish to do so then you should seek legal advice immediately. You can telephone Rollingsons specialist international divorce lawyers on 0207 7611 4848 to arrange an initial consultation.

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