Expats: how to divorce when living abroad

Moving abroad is a huge decision which can often challenge even the most stable of relationships. If things don’t work out, facing a separation whilst away from everything that is familiar to you can be extremely daunting. The emotional and psychological impact of separation can be very difficult to deal with without this support network.

If you find yourself in this situation, it is important that you think about how best to protect yourself and your family:

  • What are your legal rights and responsibilities in the country you are living in?
  • How long can you remain where you are living? Do you need, or have the right sort of visa to remain immediately and in the long-term?
  • How can you ensure stability for your children in the short-term?
  • Will you all stay living together for the time being? If not, where will you live and how will this be financed?
  • Thinking long-term, will you want to stay where you are or return home?
  • Do you need to find work / another job?
  • What is the financial impact of separating (both in the short and long-term)?
  • What are the best arrangements for the children for the future (where they will live, go to school etc)?
  • If you are married, can you get divorced in the country you are living in, or where you are from?
  • What is the best way of talking to your ex about a separation, the children, finances and moving on?

Depending on your circumstances you may need to move quite quickly to find out if you can stay where you are living and to ensure that you understand your legal rights and obligations.

Seeking early advice is essential so that you know your rights and can form an action plan to help you move forward.

Things can be more complex where there are multiple countries involved and where you start divorce proceedings could have longer-term implications which you need to consider before starting the process.

Even if you aren’t ready to divorce, it’s important to understand the alternatives and the impact this can have on you financially.

Speak to a lawyer in your home country and consider taking legal advice where you are living. Different countries approach finances on divorce in different ways, and so it is important to understand the different implications. 

It is worth noting that, following Brexit, for cases with EU connections, the court in the country which the couple has the greater connections with will hear the divorce. A solicitor will be able to advise about how this is likely to work.

If you are a British expat living abroad and facing a separation (or know someone who is) and in need of practical, sensible advice, please get in touch.