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Live in France, how to get a UK divorce?

(15 Posts)
tb Tue 18-Apr-17 16:28:01

That's it really in a nutshell.

We left the UK nearly 11 years ago to live in France. We have a house in France where we live, but all our income is based in the UK.

A court in the UK cannot order the division of property outside the UK, and a French court cannot order the split of UK income. That's my understanding.

Our income consists of an occupational pension - dh's that is index-linked, and I have a very small fixed one, about a tenth of his. We own our house outright.

I've consulted an organisation here and I haven't lost the right to divorce in the UK. Also a France/UK qualified barrister (via Law Express) told me that I can divorce in the UK despite being a permanent resident in France.

We've been married nearly 40 years.

Any helpful thoughts please would be appreciated.

Thanks for your help.

babybarrister Tue 18-Apr-17 21:16:58

The advice you have been given is not correct. English courts certainly can make orders re overseas property. You need some very good and very fast legal advice as IF you are entitled to bring proceedings here but he can issue in France then it is first come, first served. The outcome in France may be much, much worse for you. Do you have a solicitor? You need someone very expert in international cases. Charlotte Bradley good or Fiona Read or Daniel Eames.

tb Wed 19-Apr-17 16:02:45

Baby thank you very much for the names.

My only concern is the people you've named are specialists in high net worth divorces. Our joint income is insufficient to pay income tax in France - less than £20k/pa. Also we have very little capital.

babybarrister Wed 19-Apr-17 19:17:47

I appreciate your difficulties. Try Daniel Eames. Alternatively try Melanie Barnes at major family law

MrsBertBibby Wed 19-Apr-17 20:03:07

Are your pensions UK pensions?

I think there was a case recently where the English could was unable to order a share of an overseas pension, but I'd need to dig to find it.

tb Wed 19-Apr-17 20:10:24

All pensions are UK ones, 2 occupational and 1 personal.

LisaMed1 Thu 20-Apr-17 10:23:50

You need English advice (rules different in Scotland).

My information may be out of date but when I worked at County Court I was told to reject any application for divorce where neither of the parties had lived in UK for the last 12 months. This may no longer true but I suggest you check.

MrsBertBibby Thu 20-Apr-17 10:58:05

No it isn't correct, Lisa, although such petitions should be flagged.

You can seek a divorce despite being habitually resident in France on the basis that you are both domiciled in the UK, as you almost certainly are, as you still have UK sole nationality and have UK assets.

Get your petition issued and worry about the legal niceties after, OP.

The pensions case is Goyal v Goyal (2016) BTW.

LisaMed1 Thu 20-Apr-17 11:22:25

MrsBertBibby Thanks, it was a while ago and I'm glad to know that it won't be a problem.

babybarrister Thu 20-Apr-17 12:36:47

If you intend to issue in England on the basis of your joint domicile you need to be sure that you are both still domiciled here - where were you both born? where have you ever lived? where did your fathers live, where were they born and what passports did they hold? do you have French passports? where do you pay tax? where are you intending to be buried? Domicile is not the same as where you live or where you are a national of - it is a very complex area of the law and you will need proper legal advice here.

In addition, you will also need to take good advice as to whether a French court would enforce an English order in relation to the sale/transfer of the French property. This is not a matter of English law but French law and for property adjustment orders there are no international conventions on enforcement. The risk is that otherwise you end up with a nice piece of paper from the English courts but no capital ....

tb Thu 20-Apr-17 12:50:22

Both born in the UK, and lived in the UK for 57 and 50 years. Our fathers were born and lived in the UK and although neither held passports (my df had a discharge book from the Merchant Navy and my fil only went abroad in the army) both were entitled to hold British Passports.

We pay tax in France as that is the legal obligation under the double taxation treaty.

As to where we intend to be buried, our future planning doesn't include that. We have neither enquired about, nor bought French burial plots.

tb Thu 20-Apr-17 12:51:10

Am aware that from an accountancy pov, domicile may be considered as where you choose to die.

babybarrister Thu 20-Apr-17 15:53:46

you would need to be more specific as it is not "UK" you would be domiciled in but England and Wales/Scotland/NI ....

please go and get some advice fast!

WitchQueenofNewOrleans Thu 20-Apr-17 20:58:56

Heard a programme on Radio 4 a few years ago about expat divorces. The gist was that, in general, women receive fairer settlements in the UK* than some other legal jurisdictions. Anecdotally, a divorce lawyer advised "grab your marriage certificate, jump on a plane to the UK* and start proceedings in the UK".

*I can't remember if the lawyer mentioned England and Wales/Scotland/NI specifically

LisaMed1 Tue 25-Apr-17 10:45:49

OP - I don't know if you're reading but I found this - formfinder.hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/d008-notes-eng.pdf

It includes whether the divorce can be heard in England & Wales (different rules in Scotland and Northern Ireland).

I think it is worth a look. I'm not sure what the difference between 'resident' and 'domiciled' might be. Other more knowledgeable people on the thread will correct me if I'm wrong, but I would make sure I covered all bases and it may be possible to send in the petition with a seperate application asking for the court to deal with the divorce because all the matters concerning the finances are within England and Wales which is a connection.

I suspect the biggest concern is whether your husband will contest the divorce or will contest the divorce being in England and Wales because the whole 'can the court hear this' will be one of the very few reasons he can stop the divorce there. If he wants the divorce and in England and Wales then you have less to worry about.

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