A recent survey of 16 different divorce jurisdictions has found that England and Wales remains one of the most generous jurisdictions in which to get a divorce settlement. Court orders in England and Wales tend to provide for spousal maintenance and lifetime income far more often than the other countries surveyed. In recent years this difference from other comparable countries has led to London being dubbed the ‘divorce capital’ of the world with endless stories in the press about so-called ‘divorce tourism’.
The countries included in the survey were: England and Wales, USA (California and Texas), India, Nigeria, France, Finland, Israel, Ireland, Singapore, Germany, Scotland (which has a separate legal system to England and Wales), Russia, Japan and the United Arab Emirates. Some of the results may prove surprising to those used to the system in England and Wales.
For example, judges in our domestic courts strive to reach what is called a ‘clean break’ if they can – no ongoing maintenance payments, just a one-off settlement that allows the parties to move on with their newly-separated lives. In Ireland, our near neighbour, there is no such concept and the obligation is to support a former spouse until death or remarriage.
Although the courts of England and Wales attempt to reach a ‘clean break’ it is not always appropriate and it is not unusual for awards of spousal maintenance to be made. There is a strong emphasis on the financially weaker party becoming independent if they can but it is not unusual to see maintenance awarded for a number of years, and sometimes even for life. Any settlement will be made with the parties’ previous lifestyle in mind: some cut backs are often needed but the court won’t expect you to swap holidays in the Maldives for a caravan in Skegness. Israel, on the other hand, has no form of financial support after divorce whatsoever. In fact, couples who cohabit are entitled to a form of financial settlement while married couples are not.
An interesting difference shown by the survey is the difference within the USA. It is well known that the USA, just like the UK, is made up of a number of different jurisdictions. The survey found that the regime for post-divorce finances in Texas and California are very different, with the west coast state coming second from top in the generosity stakes, and the Lone Star State languishing in the bottom half of the table.
So while the general trend in England and Wales is to encourage the financially weaker party, which is more often than not the wife, to support themselves financially, this is done in the context of the couple’s standard of living while married so frequently results in years of spousal maintenance as well as generous capital payments. It’s worth noting that a ‘clean break’ can never be achieved in relation to child support and that England and Wales also has a generous regime to supplement the statutory child support framework.
It’s clear from this most recent survey that London is going to remain the divorce capital of the world for some time.
If you need advice on divorce, finances or whether you can get divorced in London then please call us on 0800 222 9500 within the UK or +44 207 874 1887 internationally. Grayfords’ team of experts have years of experience in international divorce finance and jurisdiction issues.