Expat – Australian – working overseas – what is the best course to adopt; which court to hear my case

26/10/2015

Regularly Watson & Watson experienced family lawyers, Sydney receive enquiries from expats working overseas or from a spouse or partner. 

Often the enquiries are before separation when a partner or spouse is thinking about separation and divorce and what is likely to be the outcome as to property and children. 

Each country has their own particular laws that apply in relation to divorce applications. 

Often Courts in more than one country would have jurisdiction or power to hear and determine disputes between partners who are seeking to separate and resolve their issues.

The consequences may be significantly different.  We consider your circumstances, where you are living and the consequences of commencing proceedings in Australia or another jurisdiction.  It is all the more difficult when the partners have different backgrounds and each have connections in different countries.

Watson & Watson have recently responded to enquiries concerning the alternatives including between Australia and England, Australia and Spain, Australia and New Zealand, Australia and the United States of America, Australia and Brazil and Australia and India. 

In each of these enquiries consideration is given to the circumstances and the best approach to achieve the outcome sought by the person who contacts us. 

For example an enquiry in September 2015 was from a person living in New Zealand concerned that person’s spouse and advice as to whether to separate or relocate to Australia with that person’s spouse.  The alternatives would be to separate in New Zealand and remain in New Zealand or separate in New Zealand and return to Australia or return together.

There are many considerations to achieve the best divorce settlement and property settlement agreement.  If you temporarily live overseas, in addition to the usual considerations in relation to how to proceed once the relationship has broken down, you need to consider your particular circumstances including your work, your family arrangements and where there are children, their origins and where each of the parties are likely to live following separation, the property of the parties and where and how it is held.  Sometimes it is better to act now and sometimes it is better to proceed more cautiously.  

Based on this information, we will advise so you can consider the alternative jurisdictions that are available for commencement of proceedings and the likely effect or the available outcomes in the alternative jurisdictions.  The outcomes can relate to property settlement, spousal maintenance, children custody issues including the time that each of the parties would have with the children and the circumstances relating to same, the costs and child maintenance issues and spousal maintenance issues. 

With the appropriate facts and alternatives available, you can make decisions as to the future. 

Also, we have had experience in relation to the Hague Convention and children being taken without appropriate Orders or consent and remedies that are available to you if you are caught up in those unfortunate circumstances.

If you have any queries, enquiries or concerns please telephone Richard Watson or Dennis Grant our experienced family lawyers who would be able to assist and give you the advice you need or to discuss the alternatives available to you in relation to your Divorce and Settlement agreements and alternatives.

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