Divorce Planning for International Filers: 10 Things to Consider

10 Things to Consider When You Are Filing an International Divorce – by Marion TD Lewis

1.  Assets generally

Taking stock of the economic aspects of your divorce – early – is very important for both sides of the divorce dispute. Assets are like water in a divorce. All sorts of dramatic things can happen to and with them when divorce is on the horizon. To put it bluntly, assets can be moved, dissipated, leaked, wiped out and hidden. Some of the maneuverings are legal and some are not so legal. It is critical to get competent legal and forensic assistance as early as possible in the process to protect your interests.

 

2. Trust Assets

Are there significant Trust assets that you want to safeguard? The rules vary depending on the jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions will respect the trust, others will just pierce through it. You should speak with an attorney about your specific case before you file. If protecting the trust is important there are definitely steps you need to take before you file.

3. Separate Assets

Many international filers have the problem of “separate” assets which have somehow been commingled with marital assets. Some of these separate assets can amount to a significant sum. The way courts treat separate assets vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and country to country. Discuss this issue with your counsel and advocate to see if there  are any steps you should take that might secure your interest in these assets.

4. Prenup

Re-examine  your prenup for loopholes and try to close these up with post nuptials if possible, recognizing however that in the international arena, different jurisdictions treat prenups differently. In some countries prenups are presumptively unenforeceable or are likely to be struck down for seemingly inane reasons. In others, air tight prenups will presumptively be enforced.

5. Alimony & Maintenance

Life time alimony and maintenance awards are very rare just about everywhere in the world. But it could still happen. Consider how the courts may rule on a request for alimony and maintenance and/or whether even assumming an award is made, you can get it enforced – before you file.

6. Kids

One of the key considérations or worries for international filers is child abduction. Abductors do not always announce their intentions. Establish and/or solidify your social connections where you are; but also do so with the kids. Guard the children’s passports in a safe place.  Some parents have gone so far as to put tracking devices on their children (example dental implants). This is extreme but in some situations it might be necessary.

7. Jurisdictional différences

Where you file can make a big difference in the outcome of your divorce dispute. Divorce law differs somewhat in the various US states and also in European countries and around the world. For example, England will give you a better outcome if you are the spouse with fewer assets whereas France is a nightmare; but on the other hand if you are the spouse with the money and can file in France instead of England, it is better to file in France to save your wallet. This is why it is important to speak candidly with your divorce lawyer ahead of filing any divorce pétitions.

8.  Moving

Consider moving (even if temporarily) to another country and setting up residency if the laws are more likely to give you a better outcome. Plan on at least six months on average before you can file for divorce. You do have to factor convincing your spouse to move with you and if there are children involved, upschticking the kids as well. How realistic this will turn out to be dépends on your particular situation. It is not feasible for most people most of the time. But if you can pull it off, consider it if it will be to your advantage.

9. Timing

Where you file is not the only thing to consider. You also should consider when you file. The time of year (example before or after a bonus) can affect the amount you receive in a settlement. But also, a prenup could dictate that a certain amount of time is required in order to collect a particular sum. Timing is everything, in short. Keep this in the back of your mind at all times.

10. Your Lawyer

Get the right legal advice. The lawyer must really know international law and has connections or the ability to make meaningful connnections with colleagues in the local jurisdiction since he or she will have to work with local counsel if needed to safeguard your interests and maximize the outcome for you.

 

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