London has long since been thought of as the ‘Divorce Capital’ of the world, largely due to it’s favourable views on division of assets based on parties’ needs.
The right to start divorce proceedings, and therefore financial proceedings, in the UK depends on domicile and residence. Most expatriate couples will be found to have maintained English domicile, particularly in the UAE where citizenship is unlikely.
Under English Law the courts will consider division of all assets as well as spousal maintenance. Unlike, local law remedies in the UAE under Law of Personal Status or Sharia Law, which makes no allowance for spousal provision beyond twelve months and usually limited to not more than 25% of husband’s income and there is no division of assets if they are not in joint names or no financial contribution can be proved. In most cases this rules out the sharing of pensions, bonuses, shares, savings, investments and even property in the UAE.
Should expatriate couples choose to use the English legal system, they will not be permitted to issue proceedings without having first spoken to a mediator in a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. Following these initial information meetings many parties then choose to reach agreements relating to financial and children issues through the mediation process. Participants can mediate at a time and location suitable to them in the UAE and can have the benefit of legal advice (both English and local) to help them make decisions.
Should parties reach agreements in mediation they can then use UK lawyers to draft legally binding agreements, which can then be lodged in UK courts. Expatriates should be aware that orders made in England and Wales are not enforceable un the UAE but can be enforced in other jurisdictions.
Participants in the mediation process usually find mediation presents a much quicker and more cost effective means of resolving disputes. I find that when parties have made the decision to separate they simply want to move forward as quickly as possible. The prospect of not knowing what the future might look like is not a prospect most people want to be facing for any length of time.
As a mediator I see my role as helping both sides to a dispute to navigate an incredibly daunting system to achieve an outcome that best suits their needs and the needs of their children. In order to accomplish this I have to call upon my many years of experience as a mediator working and teaching on an international level. I also call upon my established network of professionals whom I know I can rely on to provide sound advice for clients when the need arises.
Any expatriates facing the prospect of separation should first of all consider resolving matters amicably through mediation in the best interest of all parties.
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