Living abroad is not always easy. No matter where we live, we have to prepare for and think about many “what if” situations.

I’m not one to dwell on negative matters, one of my favourite expressions is:

family law for expats

But sometimes a little information and knowing who to turn to when the time comes is always reassuring.

On a recent visit to London, I met a very nice lady called Lucy, one of the partners at The International Family Law Group LLP. Lucy gave a short talk to a group of people, thinking about moving abroad. What she covered in those few minutes prompted me to speak to her and to share some of the information with you…

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The freedom to live and work abroad often leads to people from different countries falling in love. But what happens if your relationship goes wrong?

There are many myths about what someone can and can’t do legally and what is right and wrong.

Wherever you are in your journey, whether you are moving abroad or already living there let us smash those myths and equip you with all you need to know.

Common Myths:  Family Law for Expats

Like all myths, they can lull people unto a false sense of security or cause people to believe they have no options – when usually they do. Remember this last point as you read on!

  1. I have to divorce in the Country where we married
  2. English Law will apply wherever we live in the World
  3. All marriages are legal and recognised in any country
  4. We are “Common Law” husband and wife so have the same rights as legally married couples
  5. I am allowed to take the children back to my home country if my relationship breaks down
  6. My inheritance, pensions and pre-marriage assets won’t be shared upon divorce
  7. England cannot make orders against foreign held assets
  8. If I divorce abroad and a financial order is made I will definitely be stuck with it
  9. Our property regime agreement or pre-nuptial agreement is binding worldwide
  10. I don’t have to pay my ex-spouse maintenance and if I do it is automatically time limited
  11. Child Maintenance is only ever a relatively simple calculation based on a percentage of my income and will only ever be ordered in the place the children reside.
  12. Any lawyer can do family Law with international aspects 


We will cover each of the above issues in future articles. Ensure you have subscribed for updates to be informed of new information as it is published!

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Why visit an International Family Law Specialist and why would I want to speak to an English family Lawyer if I live in Spain?

International family law is not something to learn on the job. Fast decisions often need to be made about where best to issue proceedings and tactics generally. Lawyers don’t have time to go to books to check the law!

It remains a shocking fact that there remains a lack of knowledge amongst many family lawyers about international aspects of family law.  Many don’t even question when they meet clients with any English connection whether it is best to issue in Spain or England. Without knowing your rights and options, you can sadly lose out very badly by using a country to determine finances upon divorce which is less favourable to your position. There are huge disparities between the orders made upon separation or divorce in Spain compared to England. You, therefore, need advice from both jurisdictions to make the choice best for you.

Not all lawyers are the same! Using a specialist firm like ours will save you potentially a lot of money and sometimes even mean the difference between seeing your children regularly and not seeing them so often.

At The international Family Law Group LLP we have specialist lawyers in all aspects of relationship law covering these and more topics (e.g. international adoption, surrogacy). We also very importantly have a broad network of family lawyers with international family law experience worldwide with whom we have usually worked before so we can direct you quickly get the advice you need.

Speed is often of the essence particularly with matters between Spain and England or other EU countries as whichever spouse starts divorce proceedings in their chosen EU country (except Norway where different rules apply) means this determines where the divorce proceedings will take place and provided they had the right to issue there that is the end of the matter. There is often therefore a race to issue in your favoured country first in time (and it can be a matter of only hours difference in some cases!).

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Thanks, Lucy!

As I said earlier, we can’t always imagine this happening to us, or to our friends, but if it does, we now know who we can turn to.

If you have any specific questions for Lucy, feel free to add them in the comments below or, if you do not want your questions shown in public, email them and you will remain anonymous. Email your questions



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