Here are some of my tips for UK clients who are about to move overseas or some helpful points for those already abroad and whose relationship may be failing.
- Before you move overseas and accept the job offer, consider your individual position with a lawyer based in the UK and the impact of a move to a new country. If single this may be straightforward but if you have a family including children then there may be much more to think about depending upon where you intend to live. Eg If you and your family move to Cyprus and your spouse or partner wishes to return to the UK with the children and you refuse, as members of the Hague Convention, the law which covers international child abduction, your spouse or partner would be in big trouble if she returned without your permission. This could result in costly litigation as well as upset and distress for the children.
- If you and your partner agree to go overseas on a trial basis, perhaps following a career opportunity or posting then it may be worth obtaining a document in writing setting out the agreement that has been made. Verbal agreements and conversations can often be forgotten once emotions are involved at the breakdown of a relationship. If a foreign court is required to decide an outcome of a disagreement a written document can be persuasive evidence. Obviously if matters involve children it will naturally look at what is in their best interest.
- Consider keeping your roots in the UK. If you maintain an address in the UK it will be easier to provide evidence of your domicile which may be one of the necessary requirements for instigating proceedings in the UK. It can also be useful if you need to move back to the UK if a relationship fails or if you don’t settle overseas. It can be used to get children back into former schools. Maintain connections with the UK perhaps former employers in case you need to return to the UK job market.
- If overseas and your relationship is failing be as strategic as possible when planning your separation. Consult with someone who is able to look at the bigger picture so that you are able to plan when it is best to tell your spouse, employer, children etc and when may be best to move them educationally. It may also be necessary to gather evidence for financial proceedings.
- If you are overseas and pregnant, but not 100% confident that you will always want to live in that country, consider very carefully about returning to the UK to have your child. If your baby is born for example in Sweden or Saudi Arabia, the child’s habitual residence under the Hague Convention will be those two countries and that can create huge problems if you want to take your child back home.
- Consider instructing an International family lawyer in the UK rather than a local divorce lawyer. An International lawyer can seek advice from a local lawyer and often advise on the bigger picture rather than wanting immediate business and issuing straightaway in a local court which may not be in your best interest.
- Consider asking local authorities to help. Expats often feel that social welfare agencies wont understand or help a foreign national choosing to side with perhaps a local or citizen of their own country. This is not the case in many countries where the support services are excellent.
- Always make sure you have adequate personal and health insurances for yourself and family for the time that your are overseas. Check employment contracts carefully to ensure that it covers what would happen upon separation or divorce.
If in doubt or want further advice please leave a comment or email me direct, firstname.lastname@example.org.