Divorcing foreigners might experience culture clash in the UK

Date: 13 May 2015


Camilla Baldwin, partner and founder of Camilla Baldwin Solicitors, says international clients who come to divorce in the UK can face a conflict between the desire to enjoy a modern life and their cultural traditions.

What interesting cases of divorce have you been dealing with lately?

One interesting case I have been dealing with is a Pakistani couple with one child living between London and Pakistan. This case involves a short, arranged marriage between a well-educated and wealthy couple, which has broken down and a jurisdictional race for issuing divorce proceedings either in Pakistan or London.
Another case is a significantly wealthy Russian couple with two children, living in London. The husband has political asylum in England. This case involves litigation on multiple fronts including injunctions, child arrangements orders, financial remedy proceedings and divorce. Advice given has also included a consideration of appropriate jurisdiction, and proceedings brought under Part III where there has been a foreign divorce.
I’m also dealing with a Premier League footballer in relation to financial claims bought by his former partner in relation to their child.
Finally, I’m advising a Croatian former investment banker in connection with her divorce from her professionally and financially successful husband who works in the investment banking sector. Our client has, after issuing divorce proceedings, discovered that her husband has been having an affair for some years.

What lessons we can learn from them?

There can be a clash of cultures for international clients who come to divorce in this country. Clients can face a conflict between wanting to enjoy a modern life in this country and the advantages for their family of a good educational system, and a desire to adhere to cultural traditions in the Middle East when it comes to their divorce.
If possible, not to get embroiled in legal proceedings and to try mediate issues between the parties, particularly issues relating to the arrangements for the children.
As a wealthy man, exercise extreme precautions to avoid pregnancy during brief relationships.
It can be very difficult for clients to understand that in this country, unlike other European jurisdictions, the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage are largely irrelevant to the financial aspects of the divorce. Where one party to a marriage has been having an affair this will not necessarily translate into a greater financial settlement or even a stronger bargaining power in the negotiations.

What trends are you seeing in family law?

There is a wider social acceptance of entering into prenuptial agreements and the growing willingness to enforce such documents by the Courts.
I also see the Court’s readiness to order spousal maintenance for life in London is beginning to adjust to modern life and there is a move to terming maintenance on a determined event, i.e. the children finishing tertiary education. This is in line with the current approach taken by Scotland and our other neighbouring countries within the EU. A logical corollary of this is the perceptible increase in applications being brought to vary financial orders involving joint lives maintenance orders. This year has also seen the judgment of the Supreme Court in relation to Wyatt v Vince which illustrates the importance of dealing with the financial aspects to divorce, and recording financial terms in a court order.
Other hot topics include non-disclosure, enforcement and the setting aside of financial orders. Two further family cases are due to be determined by the Supreme Court imminently this year Sharland v Sharland and Gohil v Gohil.

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