We are frequently told that the world is becoming a smaller place. This is evident to our family lawyers with clients based in many different locations around the world from France to New Zealand, Spain to China, America, Bahrain and Kenya, we could go on …
Why are we acting for clients who are living abroad? Usually because their spouse or partner is living in England and taking legal proceedings here. The fact that our client lives abroad does not prevent this. The majority of cases are resolved by agreement without the need for any Court attendances. Where there is a Court hearing, we may be able to represent the foreign client without the need for them travelling to England. We have dealt with Court hearings where our client has given evidence to the English Court by way of a video link from abroad.
There are also instances where we act for a foreign client who wishes to start divorce or other family proceedings in England. Certain jurisdictional points may need to be satisfied, e.g. their spouse or partner live in England or both parties must be domiciled here. If the proceedings involve a child or children, they may be based in England or lived here until recently and so the English Court is the appropriate one.
In a divorce case, the English Court has the power to make orders relating to the assets of the husband and wife worldwide. We may then liaise with foreign lawyers to ensure that any such orders are enforceable.
How do we deal with clients who live abroad? Often, as with a client based in England, it is sensible for an initial face-to-face meeting to take place. If this is not possible we can take initial instructions by way of a telephone call or a Skype conference call. Further communications would usually be by email, telephone or Skype. We will always schedule calls for foreign clients, taking into account time zone differences.
For clients living abroad it is sometimes to their advantage to take proceedings abroad rather than in England. We will consider that with you and, where necessary, identify and contact the appropriate foreign lawyer on your behalf.
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