Filing for a divorce is extremely difficult and emotional even on regular terms, but when you file for divorce as an expat, it becomes even more challenging.
Resorting to a divorce should be your last option in either of the cases, and you should try your best to work on your marriage and save it, particularly if you have children.
However, when the situation goes way beyond repair, a divorce may be the only solution. If you’re an expat about to start your divorce process, here’s what you should know.
Here Is What You Should Do When You File For Divorce As An Expat
Seek Legal Advice
First and foremost, wherever you are, once you decide you want to file for a divorce, you should seek advice from a good local lawyer with experience in international family law. Getting good advice when filing for divorce abroad is essential if you’re not experienced with law. The local embassy or consulate can help you find an appropriate lawyer if you don’t know of any good ones. Once you’ve found a trustworthy and experienced attorney, it’s time to start your divorce process.
What to Ask Your Lawyer
Taking clear and full legal advice is essential for expats. Not only should you know about the legal matters in the country in which you reside, but also your home country and that of your spouse. It is vital to do thorough research and list all the pros and cons of each jurisdiction so that you can make an informed decision on how to proceed. Some of the questions you should ask your attorney should regard the assets.
Which assets exactly will be included, how will they be divided after divorce, whether business or inherited assets will be excluded? Check if the length of the marriage may affect the outcome of divorce and whether periods of cohabitation are included. Ask about your interim financial support during the divorce and the disclosure process details.
Where to Divorce
Living overseas as an expatriate offers a multitude of options for you in terms of where you can get a divorce. However, you should be careful about the country you choose to divorce in and research the legal systems of each of the countries you can potentially divorce in.
In one case heard in Australia, the couple lived in Singapore as expats and had three children. The husband British and the wife Australian. Each spouse wanted to divorce in Singapore and Australia respectively. Unlike in Australia, Singapore law does not take into account assets accrued during the time a couple lives together before the marriage, nor does it award the wife litigation funding to support her during a divorce.
If you’re living there as an expat, you should consider opening a savings account in Singapore to ensure your finances are safe. This way, you won’t end up broke during or after the divorce process.
Child Custody Disputes
If you have children, thinking about the custody is the next step you should take in your divorce process. Ideally, you would want to get joint custody of a child, i.e. the right to make major decisions for the child together with your ex-spouse. However, the parent with whom the child continues living will be awarded ‘care and control’.
In some cases, parents may even get shared care and control, depending on the circumstances of the case. If one of the parents isn’t granted ‘care and control, they’ll only be able to come into contact with the child on specific nights or times during the day.
Children’s best interest should also be at heart when deciding what type of custody you’d be satisfied with, and you should be aware of the fact that even if you do get sole custody, you may still not be allowed to permanently relocate your child to another country, including the country you or the child were born in.
Unless the other parent or order of the court allows the relocation, you may not be able to do it. That’s why it’s essential that you seek advice from a lawyer if you are considering relocating with your child after divorce.
Consider the Matrimonial Finances
Finances are another very important issue to discuss, which is why you should try and reach a financial settlement with your spouse outside of court. However, more often than not, spouses can’t always come to an agreement, which can lead to a financial dispute resolution hearing. The FDR is an excellent forum for reaching a settlement because the majority of cases conclude precisely after the hearing is complete.
If you are living as an expat and decide to terminate your marriage, it is essential that you seek legal advice. Every country’s legal system is different, so make sure you have a professional by your side to lead you through the entire process to ensure a positive outcome.
Lauren Laporte is a health writer at ripped.me. Her favorite subjects revolve around mental and physical health, and how they inevitably affect each other. Inspired by mountains of research and the latest in the fields of nutrition, neuroscience and cognitive science, she’s motivated to inform people of just how much they’re all interconnected. She’s into both nature and nurture, and believes that to be the main message her writing is sending out. www.ripped.me/author/