Every divorce is complicated, stressful, and both financially and emotionally messy, but when you factor in trying to go through the process in a foreign country with unfamiliar laws, things become hugely more complicated still.
For example, some of the most relevant factors that determine how the experience will go include where the marriage was based, where you’re living now, where the marital assets are, and where the children live.
Some Things to Take Into Consideration
Issues that can have a significant impact include owning property, where that property is, who has paid for it, and in fact whether both partners have rights to own property in the country of residence, or not. In these cases, local laws most certainly do apply. Unfortunately, many people mistakenly assume that the country they were brought up in, or the country they were married in, is where the divorce is decided, but this isn’t always the case.
Things also vary hugely from country to country. For example, even though the European Union is one huge trading block and is becoming politically closer every year, local laws can still vary wildly. Scandinavian countries are very egalitarian and except in exceptional circumstances assume no further obligation from either party once a marriage has ended. A situation many divorcees would likely relish!
Are Prenups Valid?
One other legal aspect of divorce that can dramatically vary from country to country is prenups – prenuptial agreements. Couples getting married where one partner has quite a few more financial assets than the other, or even perhaps where both are financially well off, may decide on a legal agreement that effectively works as an addendum to the marriage contract.
This agreement can specify exactly what will and won’t happen if the couple does divorce. This is often a preferred alternative to a time consuming, costly, uncertain, and emotional divorce proceeding.
Of course such an arrangement does require the agreement of both parties and may well take a strong and open relationship in the first place to talk about honestly before marriage is even agreed. On the other hand, the ability, or not, to talk through a prenup in a measured way as a couple may make potential flaws in the relationship much clearer.
On a national basis – many countries consider a pre-nuptial agreement to be entirely legal. They can be quite common in the United States, and are also accepted in much of Europe. However, a couple of hold outs are the United Kingdom and Ireland. And in fact, some of the most expensive divorce cases (for one of the partners) in recent history have all come out of the UK.
With so many varying laws, it can’t be said strongly enough that you should speak to an established and experienced international divorce attorney if you do find yourself in this situation. Many exist, such as Ideal Legal Group and they can help you navigate these dangerous waters.
So at the simplest level, if you’re an expat and are thinking about, or in the process of, getting divorced due to the legal complexities involved and what’s at stake, experienced legal help is absolutely required.