‘Breaking up is hard to do’, but divorcing in a foreign country is in a whole different story. Legal proceedings, are never straight forward and can vary depending on what country you are from. Here are a couple of questions answered for Australian and British expats going through separation or divorce, as well as some testimonials.
FIONA HOAD, a family law specialist from Somerville Legal, answers common questions for Australian expats who find themselves facing separation
What procedure do you have to follow when you separate?
Australia has a “no fault” system that makes getting a divorce relatively quick and easy. Property division is separate from divorce and can be resolved during the 12 month separation period and prior to the divorce. However, after a divorce order takes effect, both parties have 12 months to bring an application before the court regarding property division. It’s always recommended that parties get legal advice as to what is the likely range of just and equitable outcomes so that settlement discussions are based on realistic expectations.
Do you need to file divorce papers in Australia and Singapore?
If you were first married in Australia but currently (and temporarily) reside outside of the country, you can apply to end your marriage by way of an application for divorce in Australia. Separated expats or de facto couples who temporarily reside outside of Australia but have assets there can seek a property settlement in Australia. All assets will be taken into account, wherever they are located.
“I’ve been familiar with Somerville for over 20 years; they’re a respected law firm in Sydney. They have helped me deal with two matters, and on both occasions their service has been excellent. They are fast to respond, with good advice and execution, and have helped to take a lot of pain out of the process for me. They have compassion in the way they deal with their clients and provide support at a time when it is needed.” – Laura Smith*
If you’re a British expat, what do you have to take into account when going through divorce? ALEXANDRA TRIBE from Expatriate Law shares some insights.
For expats in Singapore who are considering a separation, a common concern is where your divorce will take place and which jurisdiction would give the best financial outcome. It’s a common misconception among expats that they must divorce where they were married; it’s not the case. The financial outcome of the divorce can vary significantly from one country to the next. You need to get the correct advice and plan well, as a delay in taking advice can result in a spouse securing a less favourable jurisdiction for divorce.
British expats living in Singapore will want to weigh up the pros and cons of divorcing in England, Singapore or another jurisdiction. You’ll need to carefully consider the location of your family and other assets, the level and length of maintenance payments, division of pensions and investments, as well as practical issues like dependent passes, interim financial support and the protection of assets. When it comes to divorce in general, it’s important to find a team that can give you constructive legal advice with a sensitive approach.
“Sonny from Expatriate Law is honestly everything you would want in a solicitor, especially in matters of divorce. He is experienced, knowledgeable and compassionate, a great listener and an eloquent negotiator with outstanding knowledge of both British and international divorce laws. It’s so easy to communicate with him and he always replies promptly and effectively giving absolute peace of mind. He’s a great asset to have in your corner.” – Jenny Long
For more helpful tips head to our living in Singapore section.