Divorce and jurisdiction- Where can I get divorced?

Divorce procedure and rules can be difficult to understand,a and financial proceedings can be lengthy and expensive. Our family law solicitors can assist with your questions, and we offer a free 20 minute consultation at our Oxford branch. Shelby explores the issue of correct jurisdiction in her article.

Marriage is a beautiful thing. A joining of two people in matrimony, in sickness and in health. However, sometimes it just is not meant to be, whether that be for a simple reason such as falling out of love, or a more serious reason such as adultery. Divorce can be a tricky and long-winded process at the best of times, let alone having to worry about the jurisdiction of your divorce. Whether you have married on the beautiful beaches of Italy or started a life and family on the stunning cliffs in England, understanding your jurisdiction venue for a divorce is vital. It is important because the laws on divorce are different in every country and the financial agreement of a couple divorced in the United Kingdom could look very different to that of a financial agreement in Italy or France.

Jurisdiction in terms of divorce, simply means the country where the divorce and financial proceedings will take place. However, it isn’t as simple as picking the country that provides the best financial outcome for you. It requires proof of a legitimate tie to the country, such as habitual residence or domicile. In some cases, a couple may be able to divorce in more than one country, however, in cases like this, the court who often receive the divorce application first will be the court who deals with the divorce. For this reason, speed in a divorce case is vital because the county whose court deals with the divorce will become the court with jurisdiction and so their financial laws will apply.

The recent case of Pierburg v Pierburg provides precedent for such cases where jurisdiction becomes a question before the court. In this case the issue before the court was whether or not the wife had jurisdiction to apply for divorce in England and Wales. In order to establish jurisdiction, the court had to be satisfied that at least one of the following conditions applied;

  1. Both parties were habitually resident in England and Wales
  2. The Respondent was habitually resident in Engaldn and Wales
  3. Both parties were domiciled in England and wales
  4. The petitioner is habitually resident and domiciled in England and wales and has been foe the last 6 months immediately prior to the application being made

The case rested on whether Mrs Pierburg had been domiciled and habitually resident in England and Wales 12 months prior to the application being made. In this case, the couple married in Germany in February 2017, separated, and the wife moved to London. However, throughout proceedings the Respondent asserted that she did not move until August 2017, which was vital as the application was made in August 2018. The divorce was contested by the Respondent and he went on to issue in Germany in February 2018. This was troublesome for Mrs Piersburg as the contract in Germany she had signed would result in her receiving nothing from Mr Piersburg financially, even in the event of hardship if the divorce in Germany was to proceed. Mrs Piersburg fought her case however, unfortunately she lost on the basis that she could not prove that she was habitually resident alongside her domicile. The judge stated that ‘she had come to England with a return ticket and had not brought all of her most important things and so didn’t intend to remain London’.

Before commencing your divorce proceedings, speak with us at SMQ Legal today.

We are not all in the boat, but we are all in the storm and we can ride the storm out together!

By Shelby Keppel

a Paralegal

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