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Isn't it Romantic?

19th August 2019

Good news for UK divorce lawyers. London has become a magnet for the super-rich who are falling out of love.

Paris: the city of love.

New York: the city that never sleeps.

London: divorce capital of the world.

While Britain’s capital might have hoped for a more romantic title, its lawyers could hardly have asked for a more lucrative one. For a range of reasons, the UK in general and London in particular has become a magnet for the super-rich who are falling out of love.

International visitors value the even-handed approach and discretionary elements of English divorce law. And they will be aware of the eye-catching financial settlements of recent years:

In 2008 Heather Mills was awarded £24.3 million in her highly publicized split from Sir Paul McCartney.

In 2011 Russian oligarch Boris Berezowsky is believed to have agreed a payment of £220 million to his wife of 20 years, Galina Berashova.

In 2017 an unnamed Russian oil and gas trader was ordered to pay his wife £453 million after their 24 year relationship ended.

More international and commercial arbitrations take place in London under English law than in any other city in the world. And the Times has reported that one case in every six that come before courts in England and Wales include an international element. With so much at stake, financially and personally, there’s no room for error in the presentation of evidence. Every word and every nuance matters. When a client’s native language isn’t English, translation and interpreting from a proven legal specialist will convey information precisely, in sense and spirit, giving other professionals the platform to do their jobs equally well.

Those seeking to end a marriage in the UK will find few jurisdictional barriers in their way. It’s not necessary for either spouse to be British born or British domiciled to file divorce proceedings under English law. Jurisdiction can be established through residence of either party, or sometimes simply by the proof of a commercial connection to the country. And for both parties, there are firm arguments in favour of a London settlement.

English Courts recognise that there should be no discrimination between the contributions of a homemaker and breadwinner in a marriage, so the starting assumption in all cases is an equal division of matrimonial assets. While this has been refined to allow exceptions, it remains a compelling point.

Crucially, Pre-Nuptial and Pre-Marital Agreements have no statutory force in England and Wales. They may be looked at on a case by case basis as part of the tapestry of a marriage but won’t be given the weight they receive in other territories.

It’s also fair to say that overseas citizens seeking legal representation may be attracted to the UK by the quality of the professionals who practice here. Divorce capital of the world may not be the most romantic title, but when it signifies fairness and professional competence it’s nothing to shy away from.