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Forum shopping for divorce at Christmas

Forum shopping for divorce at Christmas is an issue that might trouble the Courts increasingly in future years, not least because a lot of the law is EU based and Brexit means something yet to be determined by the Government or Parliament as permitted by the Courts, unless the Government appeal to Europe if it loses in the Supreme Court. Northwich solicitors Stonehewer Moss have an accredited family law solicitor of 25 years experience, Michael Brennan and he tends to find divorce instructions slacken until after the January Sales. This year Michael has done his shop extra early but he has devoted the saved time to researching the state of the law as regards Forum Shopping. Michael says, “Forum shopping for divorce at Christmas is a reality. The essential issue is choice of court in which to resolve a divorce settlement. I should predicate this blog with advice to anyone who can to seek out of court methods to resolve financial disputes on separation such as mediation, arbitration or collaborative law. With assistance from sensible solicitors the inevitable conflict arising from a case initiated over a jurisdictional battle and consequent high costs might be avoided. Here then we are dealing with a couple who might have a foot in two camps justifying a choice of jurisdiction. There might be overseas work or migration issues that could make a case to consider the divorce in a choice of courts. A jurisdiction battle will end up before the High Court with the extra legal cost that entails. The divorce is usually considered a low grade step but if there are real differences of law on the distribution of assets that simple step may resolve the jurisdiction issue. If it is an issue of concern, speed is of the essence. It is possible to obtain a temporary injunction to prevent issue in a contesting jurisdiction. Such steps really must ratchet up the costs so the step needs to be taken cautiously with a real potential for cost benefit in favour of what can only be an escalation of the dispute. In all but obvious cases it must be money well spent to seek the views of a lawyer in the overseas jurisdiction as well as here before closing your mind to the prospect of a few business related holidays next year to get the settlement you r family needs. If you dispute jurisdiction when you receive a petition from the court please take advice as the completion and return of the acknowledgment of service needs to be handled with care and further steps will have to be considered. “

When considering whether to dispute jurisdiction or choosing forum, the following questions might be considered:-

  1. Does the court have clean break powers?
  2. Are nuptial agreements in existence does that jurisdiction apply them?
  3. Is there a limit on entitlement
  4. Where are the assets?
  5. What are the rules about legal costs?
  6. Is the law on distribution of assets materially different from here?
  7. How does the court conduct itself and require disclosure?
  8. Is the court held in public?
  9. Can the court here make a different order after the decision of the overseas court?
  10. How does the court enforce orders, particularly if assets are overseas?
  11. What tax position do you have as related to domicile?

Having taken the matter to 11, please contact us if you need advice negotiation or representation in family law disputes on 01606 872200 e mail visit


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Stonehewer Moss Solicitors, Citadel House, Solvay Road, Northwich, Cheshire, CW8 4DP

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