Family law generally differs in every country in the world. Within the United Kingdom, there are very substantial differences between the law of divorce in Scotland, in England and Wales and in Northern Ireland.
This creates particular difficulties in the field of family law because situations frequently arise when more than one country could have jurisdiction to hear a case, whether it be a divorce action (including financial provision), a maintenance claim or an action in relation to the residence of a child.
As a result of Gillian being dual-qualified in Scotland and in England & Wales and Alasdair being a Fellow of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, we are well placed to examine those issues and to advise on the best course of action.
Validity of Foreign Marriage and Divorce
We are frequently consulted by clients who have married abroad and are concerned about the validity of their marriage here in Scotland. This is particularly relevant for those now living in Scotland and who wish to divorce, as the marriage must be recognised as a valid one in Scotland in order for a Scottish court to grant divorce.
Divorces obtained abroad can raise similar issues, not least because they do not always preclude an action from being raised here in Scotland. This will depend on the validity of the foreign divorce decree in the eyes of the Scottish courts, and indeed, the nature of any award that might have been made by the foreign court.
In certain circumstances, an action may be raised in Scotland even where an action has already been raised abroad, and vice versa. Our team has experience in dealing with the issue of competing jurisdictions, and can advise clients accordingly, and indeed, act on their behalf in relation to any action that has been brought before a Scottish court.
Civil Partnership and Same-Sex Marriage
Same-sex couples who have registered a civil partnership or married abroad will be subject to the same requirements as to legal validity as opposite-sex married couples. The process for converting your civil partnership to a marriage will depend on how your civil partnership was registered in the country where the ceremony took place.
If you have already entered into, or intend to enter into, a pre-civil partnership agreement in order to protect your pre-partnership assets, it is important to bear in mind the possible effects on that agreement of a later conversion to marriage.
Should you wish to discuss an international family law case, please contact a member of the Family Law Team today.