Making the right choices

Making the right choices

Guest bloggers Suzanne Kingston, Delphine Eskenazi and Mark Haranzo highlight the issues faced by international families on relationship breakdown. 

It is often said that the world is getting smaller, and that is certainly true in my experience of practicing family law. One of results is the emergence of the truly international family: families who effectively have homes and lives in a number of different countries. Historically, wealthier families would have a base in one country and 'holiday homes' abroad, but it is no longer an unusual phenomenon for families to have significant ties in various countries. This particularly true where the spouses have different nationalities (and so extended families are based in different counties), and also where their work means that they travel extensively and are not necessarily based in one particular country. A current example of such a family is the Pitt/Jolies.

Being an international family means more choice – where to buy property, where the children should go to school, where (if anywhere) to settle. In the unfortunate event that the marriage breaks down, one of the most important, and often time critical, decisions is where to initiate divorce proceedings. Each country will have its own rules as to whether or not its courts have the power to dissolve the marriage, and deal with the financial implications of divorce.

As different countries have different rules in terms of how assets should be divided, a decision about where to get divorced can have significant implications. To take the Pitt/Jolies as an example, deciding whether to get divorced in France, California or here would involve first considering whether the courts in each country have jurisdiction, and then what the likely outcome would be in each. In order to illustrate the various issues that arise, I discussed the situation with two family lawyers – Delphine Eskenazi of Libra Avocats and Mark Haranzo of Withers New York and California.  I set out below our thoughts.

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