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Divorce: The importance of recognising issues of jurisdiction in divorce

legal advice on living togther

The recent judgment in Met v Hat [2913] EWHC 4247 (Fam) by Mr Justice Mostyn was in relation to what was termed an application for “interim interim” financial provision. This raises questions within itself but this blog will focus of one the other important issues which emerge from the judgment- the importance of recognising issues of jurisdiction at the outset of a divorce.

The Wife was described as originally as having a domicile of origin in Egypt and possibly a domicile of choice in the Husband’s home country (which is not identified in the judgment).

It appears that prior to the breakdown of the marriage the parties were living predominately in the Husband’s home country, also visiting Egypt. They were also able to spend some of their time during the hot summer months in this jurisdiction having purchased a property here in the 1990’s.

Upon the breakdown of the relationship in 2011 the Wife moved here with the children on what her counsel stated was a permanent basis from 22 April 2011.  The Judge appeared to cast doubt on this because between April 2011 and August 2013 the Wife and the children appeared to spend more time in Cairo than they did here. He did accept that it seemed from August 2013 the Wife and the children were here permanently.

It would appear that throughout this period the Husband remained in his home country although the judgment is not particularly clear about this.

The Husband’s position is that the parties were divorced irrevocably in his home country by a triple declaration of Talaq on 29 March 2012.  The judge felt that there was a strong case on the evidence for that divorce to be entitled to recognition here pursuant to Family Law Act 1986.

The Wife initially issued divorce proceedings in this jurisdiction on 12 March 2012. The judge referred to the divorce petition issued as a “rather remarkable document” given that it claimed both the Husband and the Wife were habitually resident in England and Wales.  Later in the judgment the judge refers to the claim that the Husband is habitually resident in England and Wales as appearing to be “absurd”.

The Wife was later given permission to discontinue this petition and file a new one on the basis of her own habitual residence for one year alone.  This second petition was dismissed at a hearing in January 2013 at which neither the Wife nor her legal representatives attended.

The judge concludes that this dismissal must have been on the basis that the parties had already been divorced in the Husband’s home country and that divorce was entitled to recognition.

An application to set aside the order made in January by the Wife has since been struck out but following an observation by the judge at the hearing of that application the Wife issued a third petition in September 2013.

The case rumbles on but what is apparent already is that there appears to have been a total lack of recognition in respect of the laws regarding jurisdiction and the importance of those when the initial divorce proceedings on behalf of the Wife were commenced.

Wherever there are potential conflicting jurisdictions then the implications of this should be properly considered from the very outset of a case and, if appropriate, advice sought in each of the relevant jurisdictions. This can often have much more significance in terms of overall financial outcome than people realise.

James Maguire & Co is a specialist firm of Family Law and Divorce Law solicitors based in Wilmslow, Cheshire. We offer legal advice to parties going through a divorce including the financial issues which flow from this and children matters including child maintenance.

We can also advise on Schedule1 Children Act 1989 applications.

We advise clients in the Wilmslow area and also to the surrounding areas of Alderley Edge, Bramhall, Hale, Altrincham, Manchester and the North West. We are also able to act for clients nationally and internationally subject to the jurisdiction of England and Wales. For advice please contact James Maguire by telephone +44 (0) 1625 529456 or by email james.maguire@family-law.

For specialist advice on any family law related issue contact Maguire Family Law by email: james.maguire@family-law.co.uk or telephone:

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