Separating from your partner when you are living abroad can be a daunting step. For French expats living in London who are considering divorce or separation, finding yourself navigating a different legal system in a language which is not your mother tongue will be confusing and sometimes overwhelming. You should seek legal advice as well as the support of local friends before starting any process with your ex partner.
For French expats considering divorce, you will need to obtain advice as to whether to divorce in England or in France. It is not necessary to divorce in the place you were married. If you or your spouse live in England for 6 or 12 months (depending on whether you are also domiciled in England) then you can divorce through the English courts.
When you are ready to take matters to the next stage you do not have to go straight to court. In England there are other ways of negotiating an agreement with your ex partner to formalise your separation, address your finances or look after your children. Your main choices are:
Negotiations between you and your partner
Negotiating your own agreement, with or without legal assistance, can be the cheapest way to reach an agreement. Although it may also seem the easiest, it can be a complex process and there may arise issues which you had not anticipated considering. This process does not necessarily suit everyone. It is important to seek legal advice alongside any negotiations you may undertake yourself with your partner. Melanie Bataillard-Samuel, associate solicitor at Expatriate Law, speaks fluent French and advises French expatriates in England on divorce and family law.
Mediators are trained to assist parties in resolving all types of issues which couples may find themselves having to worry about at the time of separation. Mediation can be for divorce finances and/or for children disputes. A mediator will organise a series of meetings with you and your ex partner in order to allow you to identify and resolve these issues. Once you have reached an agreement the mediator will prepare a summary of your agreement which can then be turned into a consent order by your solicitors.
Each person has their own collaboratively trained lawyer assisting them. You, your ex partner and your respective lawyers will hold several round table meetings during which you will negotiate a settlement together. As you will each have your lawyers representing you throughout the process you will be able to negotiate face to face with your ex partner while still retaining legal advice and support throughout. Here is a link to the collaborative law principles.
You and your ex partner will choose an arbitrator with or without the assistance of your solicitors. The arbitrator will eventually make a final decision on your issues, be they financial or children based. The same arbitrator will handle your matter from start to finish. Arbitration is quick, confidential, flexible, cost effective and less formal than court proceedings.
Negotiations through solicitors
Some people choose this method because they feel that an agreement with their ex partner is simply not possible , others feel it is their last option after trying all other avenues. In any event having legal advice throughout the process is important.
If you are unable to reach an agreement you can ask the court to make a decision on your behalf. This article sets out the court process for resolving financial claims on divorce.
Take the time to consider your options after having spoken to a legal advisor. Choosing the right process could help you save time and money.
If you need any assistance or have further questions in relation to Anglo French family law, we can help you. We will assist you to resolve disputes on divorce or disputes between unmarried couples, whether they relate to finance, children or both. We have trained mediators and collaborative lawyers and can advise you on all processes.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. For any further queries or follow up please contact Expatriate Law at email@example.com.