Home or Away?

23 April 2015

Clare Curran, Partner, specialising in Family Law, looks at jurisdiction issues in respect of Divorce proceedings

Home or Away?

Clare Curran, a Partner, specialising in Family Law, looks at jurisdiction issues in respect of Divorce proceedings.

In the twenty-first century, it is now easier then ever for families to split their time between different countries for personal, family or employment reasons. However, in the unfortunate event of a marital or civil partnership breakdown, arrangements such as this can raise issues in deciding in which country Divorce proceedings should be issued.

Parties wishing to petition for Divorce in Northern Ireland must satisfy the Court that it is the correct jurisdiction in which to do so. This can be evidenced by proving one of the following grounds:

* Both the Petitioner and Respondent are habitually resident in Northern Ireland.
* The Petitioner and Respondent were formerly both habitually resident in Northern Ireland and either of the parties still resides here.
* The Respondent is habitually resident in Northern Ireland.
* The Petitioner is habitually resident in Northern Ireland and has resided here for at least one year immediately prior to the presentation of the Petition. (If this ground is applicable, it is necessary to provide addresses of where the Petitioner has resided, along with the length of time at each address.
* The Petitioner is domiciled and habitually resident in Northern Ireland and has resided here for at least six months immediately prior to the presentation of the Petition. (Again it is necessary to provide details of address at which the Petitioner has lived, along with confirmation of times that they have resided there.)
* The Petitioner and Respondent are both habitually resident in Northern Ireland.

If none of the above grounds apply and the Petitioner still alleges that the Northern Irish Court has jurisdiction, proceedings can be issued here under Regulation (EC) 2201/2003 on the basis that no other Contracting State has jurisdiction, and that either the Petitioner or Respondent are domiciled in Northern Ireland on the date that the Petition is issued. The other ‘Contracting States’ referred to are all other Member States of the EU, with the exception of Denmark.

In practice, it is likely that establishing jurisdiction may be a straightforward matter which can clearly be evidenced by the facts of the case. It may be that proceedings can be issued in more than one country with very differing outcomes for the parties to the divorce, such as how the courts in a particular country might divide any matrimonial assets, therefore it is important to get early legal advice as to any issues raised in this article.

Should you have any queries in respect of the issues raised, or any other family law matter, please telephone the family law department on 028 91811538 to discuss or email familylaw@worthingtonslaw.co.uk with your query.

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