Expat couple in Dubai with a choice of jurisdiction in which to divorce

Andrew and Molly live in Dubai. Andrew was born in Scotland but has a British father. He holds a British passport. Molly is an Australian citizen. Andrew has not lived in England since 2003. The total assets of the marriage are valued at £3million. The major assets are based in London and the remainder are spread across Dubai and the British Virgin Islands. Andrew brought all of the assets to the short marriage of 22 months. There is no pre-nuptial agreement.

The marriage between Andrew and Molly has broken down and Andrew is concerned that his pre-acquired assets are vulnerable. He wishes to initiate a divorce.  Andrew instructed Expatriate Law, and is advised that according to section 5 of the Domicile and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1973 and Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 “Brussels II Revised” either party may issue proceedings immediately in England based on Andrew’s “domicile of origin”. This is because domicile of origin is never lost and in circumstances where a person has not properly established a permanent domicile of choice, then their domicile of origin revives. Andrew is advised that where a person’s parents were married at the time of his birth he acquires his father’s domicile.

Andrew is advised that although he could issue proceedings in Dubai based on his habitual residence, the Dubai court does not have jurisdiction over foreign assets. He is advised that if he were to issue proceedings in Dubai, Molly is likely to be advised to either issue competing proceedings in England or ultimately seek financial relief following a foreign divorce under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984, in which case his London assets remain vulnerable.Andrew is advised that according to English case law, the fact that  the assets are all pre-acquired by him, length of the marriage and Molly’s demonstrable serious financial misconduct will be decisive factors. Andrew decides to avoid the costs of contested jurisdiction litigation and to negotiate within the framework of English law.

Following the voluntary exchange of financial disclosure, Andrew and Molly enter into negotiations via solicitors and agree terms to avoid the costs of court proceedings. Andrew pays Molly a lump sum of £200,000 in full and final settlement on a clean break basis. The settlement meets Molly’s immediate needs for capital and income while taking into account the fact that all of the assets were pre-acquired by Andrew.

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