British spouses ‘race’ to European divorce courts
Increasing numbers of British spouses are ‘racing’ each other to file for divorce in Europe (Chicago Options: REURUSD – news) to secure more favourable divorce settlements, according to legal sources.
Family law firm Pannone has reported a significant rise over the last two years in cases involving couples trying to begin proceedings in countries where they believe they might get a better deal.
They say many men believe the British courts to be too “wife-friendly” and believe they will get a better deal with one of our European neighbours.
Vicki McLynn, a senior associate at Pannone, said the growth in Britons’ international lifestyle had led to spouses competing to take advantage of the likely disparity of outcomes in different countries.
After analysing the 700 cases handled by Pannone’s Family department over the last two years, she found London’s reputation as the divorce capital of the world had contributed to a culture where spouses either try to issue proceedings first or argue for a change in venue once a case has begun.
Statistics show that 13 per cent of the one million divorces across Europe in 2007 involved spouses from different countries.
“Husbands and wives are effectively racing to be the first to begin divorces in countries they feel could deliver judgements which are more favourable to their respective circumstances.
“That is because the differences between certain countries are significant.
“The increase has been most noticeable in European countries, as for most a ‘first past the post’ system operates in which a divorce will be handled in the country where the papers are first issued.
“Spouses have to demonstrate some justification for divorcing in a given country. However, because there is now such a large number of people living and working abroad, a growing proportion of individuals qualify.”
While British courts could award ex-wives maintenance for life, many other countries are considered less favourable to non-working and less wealthy spouses, for example limiting post-marital support to only three years.
The European Union recently moved to halt the process of so-called “forum shopping” by introducing regulations to dictate where proceedings should be issued if the couple cannot agree.
“Britain’s reputation means that even when divorces are completed overseas, a husband or wife who believes that they got an especially raw deal could still try to improve their settlements through the courts here,” said Ms McLynn.